Monday, November 30, 2009

Congrats to new Catholic Writers Guild officers

Stepping Down, Not Stepping Out

Congratulations to our new officers!

President: Walt Staples (aka GK Fields)
Vice President: Ann Lewis
Secretary Margot Davidson
Treasurer: Laura Yarus (aka voxsum)
Committee Coordinator: David Law

I have served at President of the Guild for three years. I've seen it grow from some folks talking (and arguing) on the Yahoo group about what a the guild might do, to our becoming incorporated, internationally recognized and--most importantly--useful to Catholic writers who need practical help and support for their craft and their faith. I've made some terrific friends, not the least of which is Ann Lewis, who's been VP this whole time. One of the toughest parts of leaving is breaking this wonderful partnership, but even though our friendship formed discussing Guild business, it's transcended that. I've also had some wonderful opportunities to meet publishers, editors and writers, as well as members of the media interesting in telling others about the Guild. Overall, one of the greatest experiences of my life!

But it's also been a time-consuming and mentally taxing experience, and as my older kids have entered high school, I find I need to turn more of my energy to them.

Thus, this year, I'm passing on the office of Guild President to Walt Staples. Walt is a funny guy with a good head on his shoulders. He'll keep this Guild moving forward!

In the meantime, I'm retiring to the ranks, playing in the forums and crit groups, organizing the online conference and helping Ann with the live conference. It's been a great couple of years as president, but I'm looking forward to my adventure as member-at-large.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ten Things I'm Thankful For

#1 I live in a country that, despite its troubles, is one of the safest, free-est and most prosperous in the world.
#2 I married my best friend and after 19 years am as much in love with him as ever.
#3 I have four healthy, intelligent, fun-loving kids who think Mom and Dad are the coolest geeks ever!
#4 The Catholic Writers Guild has grown not only in membership size, but in the amount of service we provide writers and bookstore owners--from the Seal of Approval to the conferences.
#5 I am finally passing the CWG Presidential torch to Walt Staples! Now I can have fun for a couple of years!
#6 I have three books published and one to be published; I have several stories in anthologies and magazines.
#7 I have wonderful and supportive friends thanks to the wonder of the Internet.
#8 My imagination continues to amuse me, and I have the opportunity to let it amuse others as well through my writing.
#9 I am finally able to spend time with my sister as we have a year together in California.
#10 I have health, sanity, humor, and enough smarts to get by.

All of this, of course, is thanks to the loving God who gifted me with so much; the many brave men and women who have fought to keep us free; my parents who raised me so well (and my mother-in-law who raised a fine son); and a good educational system that gave me the skills I use each day. Thank you!


Monday, November 23, 2009

My Novel's Journey: Gapman! Seeking Supervilian Plot

I'm working a novel again. This one is Gapman, a super-hero spoof. Once again, I'm flying seat-of-the-pants, with some rough ideas and a whole lot of fun scenes to drive the way.

This time, I'm still in search of the perfect Supervillian plot. I know it needs to involve the designer drug called Puck. I have one idea: get the elves high on Puck so they'll agree to sign life insurance policies and make the villain a fortune in commissions. However, exactly how he plans on doing that, I'm not sure yet. And the more I think logically about it, the more holes I see. So if anyone has ideas, I'm glad to listen. I discarded the politician trying to get the elves high to sign a treaty with the US (mainly because they were taking so long.)

Friday, I thought about bringing the plot closer to home: a more personal attack on Vern and Grace, and Gapman will get to help them out. It would also have a very nice foreshadowing into the next book I want to write, Damsels and Knights, which is a spin-off trilogy involving Los Lagos Police Captain Santry and a griffin-turned human, Veronica Bates. I'm wondering if it's too heavy for the spoofing, though.
In the meantime, I'm having a great time developing the Gapman character, Ronnie Engleson. He's a real sweetie, but, as my friend Devon Ellington put it "reverts to being 11 at the slightest provocation." He lives with his mom so that they can afford a nice house up in the mountains, bikes and runs (though he has a bit of a pudge), and works as the entertainment reporter for the Los Lagos Gazette. Of course, getting superpowers was a childhood dream, so he's determined to use them for good--yet in his zeal, he's causing a lot of problems, too.

I'm playing with alternating between him and Vern--first, with them living their own lives and dealing with their own problems, then working together as Vern takes him as his Padawan (at Grace's behest.)

Here's a brief introduction to Ronnie.

My name is Ronald Engleson. I prefer to be called Ron, but people have called me Ronnie since Kindergarten. Mom's always called me Ronnie, of course, but that's her prerogative. I had a brief time in college when I was Ron, but that ended when I returned to Los Lagos and started working for the Gazzette. Guess that's the problem when your mom used to date the editor-in-chief; Richard Redfeathers still thinks I'm ten years old.

Otherwise, I like the job. I've done a little of everything. Started in the Classified, but now I'm the entertainment writer. You know, movie reviews, features on the local thespians. Bet you anything, my articles get stuck into scrapbooks more than any other writer's on the paper. Yet even though my byline reads "Ron Engleson," people still call me "Ronnie." I try not to let it bother me.

Word count: 5,719

Monday, November 16, 2009

Join me in writing Gapman! and editing Discovery

Welcome back to Fabianspace

As many folks know, I gave up blogging for awhile. I wasn't enjoying it and it wasn't drawing people to my site or writing, so I decided to play with Twitter and forget about the blogsphere.

Not sure why, but this month, I decided, "I'd like to try blogging again." One thing enjoyed in my blogging time was chronicling my adventures writing Live and Let Fly. I found it also motivated me to write, as I needed something to blog about. So I'm going to start again with regular writing and editing adventures. Hopefully, I can teach something as well.

I have two projects going right now:

Gapman! is my super-spy spoof in the DragonEye, PI universe. I've already got several scenes worked out, which are spit-out-your-soda funny. Los Lagos, Colorado, home of the Interdimensional Gap and the sleuthing duo of dragon Vern and Sister Grace, gets its first real superhero. Here's a teaser I made up for fun:

I'll be sharing the adventures of my seat-of-the-pants writing.

Discovery is the Catholic science fiction story I started as a 2006 (2007?) NaNoWriMo project. I'd put it away for a long time, but it kept calling to me, so this year, I made myself finish it. I fought tooth and nail, lead and byte for this one. It changed quite a bit mid-stream (for the waaaay better), so it is in need of a serious re-write and edit. I have a publisher in mind for it, and he's interested in seeing it, so I want it to sing! Join me as I conduct major surgery on a hard-won novel.

Discovery is my priority, since I'm still trying to sell Live and Let Fly, and Gapman comes after that, so I'm posting about it every Thursday. Gapman will be every-other Monday, and I'll intersperse news and other fun stuff in the opposite Mondays. So please, come on back, make comments and let me know if I'm interesting you at all.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

An Author's Christmas Wish List

It's time once again for my annual Author's Christmas Wish List. You can make any author in your life happy with these gifts--some of time, some of talent, and some of treasure.

Authors, feel free to copy and paste this to your own blogs, slip under your spouse's pillow, or e-mail to those who never know what to get you. Friends of authors, imagine your friend wrote this.

Gifts of Time:

Take my book to a store and ask the owner to stock it
* Mention to friends or user groups about my website, newsletter or blog
* Babysit the kids so I can have a few quiet hours for writing
* If I'm having a booksigning in your area, come visit and bring some friends
* Help me set up a book signing at your local bookstore or library (especially appreciated if we live far from each other and I'm coming for a visit)
* Contact your local newspaper or radio station about me and arrange an interview--also a great idea if I happen to be coming for a visit
* Offer to donate a couple of hours to some project I'm working on--like sending letters to bookstores, sending out PR releases, making a database of readers, etc.

Gifts of Talent:

* Create a website for me--or better yet, teach me how
* Make a template I can modify
* Give me ideas on how I can market myself or my books--and help me to put them into practice!
* Design a banner, book "sell sheet" (a one-page flyer about the book), or other marketing materials
* Make a book trailer video for my book and post it on YouTube, etc.
* Make a recording of a chapter of my book to put on my website

Gifts of Treasure:
Just like with clothing or jewelry, some of these items (from domain names to pens) may require you knowing your author's friend's taste. When in doubt, a gift certificate for the item is a good fall-back.

* A marketing class by The Marketing Mentor (I'm offering a Christmas special: gift certificates are $15 a class, half off! Contact me.)
* Music to write by
* Amazon gift certificates to get books
* Buy my book--order it from a bookstore
* Buy me a domain name for my website
* Bookmarks with my cover, name and website
* Subscription to Writers Market
* Subscription to The 30-Minute Marketer (Again, I'm offering 50 percent off the subscription--just $6 a year. Contact me.)
* Journals
* Book signing gear--poster with my photo and name on it, a roll-away carrier to put the books and materials, book stands
* Business cards
* Gift certificate to a printer/VistaPrint if they do that
* Reams of paper
* A mug warmer (or a good thermos)
* Pizza coupons for those days when the need to write overcomes the need to cook
* A really good pen!
* Stamps
* Business-sized envelopes

Monday, November 09, 2009

Bookstore Efforts Led to Book Signing Success

I had a lovely book signing at Godspace, the Catholic bookstore in Thousand Oaks. I sold more books than I had in a long time.

What did I do different? Not a single thing. In fact, I only had three days' notice. I have to credit the store owner, Claudia Satori.

First, it was her grand opening, so that was a draw. People attended who were loyal to the store, friends of hers, or who came in for the other deals and the free cider and cupcakes.

Second, another local author, Greg Stone, was there signing his new book, Taming the Wolf, which our local Franciscan priest, Father Joe, helped write. Thus, there was an additional draw of readers coming for his books. His is a nonfiction on conflict-resolution, but some folks did check out my table as well.

Third, she gave me a lovely little table outside the door. That way, I caught the foot traffic that might not otherwise have come into the store. Since my books have readership in the secular world as much or more than the non-Catholic, I was able to stop people and talk them up. Also outside was the Christmas caroler who was selling his kereoke CDs, so we did a lot of singing.

Fourth, she TOLD HER CUSTOMERS ABOUT MY BOOKS! I'd dropped off some copies for her a few weeks ago, and she'd read and loved them, and she let people know. I sold four in the first half hour because she told one reader, "You will not believe what Karina writes! Catholic sci-fi." Turned out her customer was a big SF fan.

Fifth, she asked Greg and me to give a presentation about our books. He gave an interesting presentation on the levels of conflict resolution, while I read from Infinite Space, Infinite God and Magic, Mensa and Mayhem. I got a couple of purchases and some nice compliments.

It goes to show that sometimes, the bookstore's efforts can make just as much an impact on the success of your sales as you can. What can you do to help that?
--Leave the owner a copy of your book.
--Give them materials and suggestions for advertising
--Suggest a location. If it's a small store in a mall, you might suggest begin put outside.
--Get some info about their event so you can draw people in, too. (I would let folks passing by know it was the grand opening and everything was on sale so it was a great time for early Christmas shopping.)
--Try to go in with other authors. Several authors doing a signing will draw more attendees.
--Offer to do a reading or small lecture.

I wish I'd known about the grand opening sooner--I had four day's notice; three, because I had to check with Rob on his schedule--because I could have added my advertising to hers. She runs a terrific store, with as many books as gifts, and a huge children's book section. If you live in the Thousand Oaks, CA, area, I'd suggest checking it out, or look at her website for more info.
Thanks, Claudia and the members of Godspace!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Reviving my Blog

I've been giving blogging a lot of thought and have decided to try once blog for awhile, concentrating on writing and sci-fi/fantasy. Mainly, I will be blogging about the writing and editing process in my latest books. I may also tour a few books here, but they will be titles of my choosing and in my time.

In the meantime, I'm thinking about monthly themes for Twitter. I had a lot of fun with 31 days of zombies. However, I'd like feedback. Is it too much? I'll try to stay away from popular themes this time.

Please give me some feedback.