Wednesday, December 28, 2011

5 Writing Resolutions (that I probably won't keep)

 New Year's Eve is fast approaching and many people are thinking about their resolutions. I don't much care for resolutions because I break them faster than I make them. I suppose I could try a little harder, but then again...nah. I mean, it's 2012. The world is going to end in, like, 11 months or something. Resolutions are pointless.

 However, as a goal oriented person who thinks the world might possibly go on anyway, I will attempt to set goals for myself as a writer--even though I'm likely to break these so called writing resolutions.

1. Write every day. How many times have you heard this one? Kudos to you if you already do this! I pretty much do it too, though I often find myself taking holidays off.

2. Try a new genre. I just finished reading a steampunk novel. I don't think I can write that genre so therefore, I will attempt to create a short story within that realm. Challenge thyself to do the same!

3. Learn how to critique like a writer instead of a reader. This is a tough one. Readers and writers read differently. They critique differently, too. Readers are typically very straightforward about what they liked or didn't like, whereas, writers tend to be more technical. I need to be more technical so that I sound like I know what I'm talking about at writing meetings.

4. Self publish something. Yes. I will stop being afraid of the label and just do it already!

5. Manage my time better. No more chasing butterflies when I should be killing ants. I don't know what that means, but I do know that I need to stop goofing on the internet when I should be typing up fantastic and deeply meaningful prose.

What are your writing goals for 2012?

Monday, December 26, 2011

What Did You Get?

I didn't get an e-reader, but I'll bet a lot of you did. The only reason I didn't get one is that I already have it! Mary Ann blogged on the reasons to own one a few days ago, so I won't go into all of them here, but my main two are book prices and the ability to carry dozens of books around in my purse. If I've started one book and don't feel like reading that one, I can switch to another. When I come back to the abandoned one, it'll pick up where I left off--automatic bookmarks.

I'll bet you're thinking that now I'll tell you to click at the side to buy one of our books for your new reader (if you got one, which I hope you did!).

Fooled you! I'm not. I'd really like to hear if anyone got really cool presents! I got beautiful things from all my kids, and the most precious gift from my grandkids. Two of my five are step granddaughters, and one of them is spending the school year in Spain, so I didn't get anything from her (but I do expect something from Spain in the spring!). Her sister spent the night here Christmas Eve, along with my son--a wonderful gift in addition to what they brought (good stuff!).

But the other 3 sent the precious gift. My son's two, ages 3 and 5, under my daughter-in-law's direction, put their handprints on two towels, which they then sent to my daughter, who had her 1-year-old add his. He, however, was horrified at the whole concept of fingerpaints all over his hands, and contributed the cutest little print (one on each towel). Can you tell which one is his?

When I called my daughter-in-law to thank them (daughter was on a plane when I opened the package), she pointed out that they were Hand Towels. Get it? Hand Towels? I'm embarrassed she had to tell me!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas from All Things Writing!

Merry Christmas readers! We hope your holiday season is bright, cheery, and filled with lots of great stories! Thanks to all our faithful followers and new friends!

Don't forget: We have great titles available for all your last minute Christmas needs. Just click on any of the book covers to the right.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

QR Codes: Promotional Tool for Writers

Finally, my Christmas shopping is done and I can attend to more important things, like my blog post for this week. I'm posting a little late, but hopefully, our faithful readers will forgive me. 'Tis the season and all that jazz...

Today we are going to chat about QR codes and how they can be a great promotional tool for a writer. Recently, I attended the Austin Comic Con. Along with my writing group, I promoted our book All Things Dark and Dastardly. We had lots of hard copy books ready to sell, and both of my colleagues had paperback copies of their books to sell, too.

I was jealous. My novel, Nephilim, is only available in ebook form right now. I felt like I was missing out on a great opportunity to spread my little story about tattooed angels around. Both of my writing friends suggested I make business cards or bookmarks with the book info on it, which made total sense to me.

But then brilliance struck me, (it kind of hurt actually) and I heard the words: QR code. Well, duh! Of course, that's the way to go!

A QR code is a type of matrix bar code that the automotive industry made popular. They've become very common and are used on lots of different things. If you have a QR scanner it will take you directly to the website or other location being advertised. Guess what? Most people can download a QR scanner app directly onto their phone! I'm willing to bet that quite a few savvy iPhone and Droid users have this very thing already. Betting a QR code for your book can be free to inexpensive. Google QR codes and you'll find all sorts of websites willing to set you up.

So what did I do?

Using Vistaprint, I downloaded my book cover onto a glossy postcard/invitation template. On the back side, I included the synopsis, my website, blogsite, guessed it! The handy dandy QR code that takes you directly Nephilim's purchase link on Amazon!

This has been a great tool for my ebook because when I talk to someone about it, I can show them the synopsis and cover, but I also have a way for them to directly link to Amazon so they can buy it right then and there.

So the big question: Has it helped sales of the book? Can't say for sure, but my royalty check was larger last month than I expected it to be. I think writers should use whatever promotional tools are availble to them.

How about you? Any other authors using a QR code?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Writing Groups

I wonder how many of you writers have a writing group, and if they do your writing any good. It may be that I'm approaching expert status on this, as I've had lots, both online and face to face ones.

All of my online groups have been through my Sisters in Crime Guppies chapter. And some have been for novels and some for short stories. I've had multiples of both kinds. They've all been at least helpful and some have been excellent. It seems that people come and go though, and they last a certain amount of time, then peter out. I can honestly say that my writing is much, much better for those groups.

My face to face groups are, of course, lots more fun, since we're actually physically there and can chat and even eat and drink together--always a plus. The two that I'm in right now are very different, though. In one, we submit a chapter, or about ten pages, by email a few days before our meeting. We print out the pages, critique them on paper, then get together to go over our individual critiques and discuss the finer points. Opinions vary, of course, and not all advice is taken by each writer. That would be a mess!

My other face to face group doesn't critique at all, unless one of us requests it. Our usual meeting is to chat a bit, then do at least one timed writing on our laptops or on paper, from a writing prompt. We then can choose whether or not to read what we've come up with to each other and can ask for suggestions if we wish.

For both of these groups, also, members come and go, but these groups have kept going for years. I get different things from each group I belong to, online and ftf. I'm not one of those writers who doesn't want any critiques! It's like free editing. It's also informative to see what other writers are doing and we learn from each other.

It's the second live group that put out the latest short story anthology, ALL THINGS DARK AND DASTARDLY, so our meetings lately are geared toward the book. But I'm sure we'll get back to writing soon.

Long live critters and writing groups!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

5 Reasons to Try an eReader

Okay, now I already know what some people are going to say when they read the title of this post. 

"I like the way it feels holding a real book in my hands."

How nice for you. That's cool. But have you ever actually tried an eReader? I'm not talking about your laptop or computer either. I mean, an eReader like the Nook, iPad, or Kindle? Many of the people who have given me the above response have never actually tried one.

I have to admit it. I was skeptical, too. I'm a writer after all and reading is one of my passions, but when my mother got a Kindle last year for Christmas, I was curious to know how that would go. Mom reads as much as I do and probably keeps Half Price Books in business. My father and I both thought she would never enjoy the Kindle.

We were so wrong....that woman never puts the damn thing down. She and Amazon have a close, personal relationship now, and she feels that every email she gets from them is like a specially tailored love letter.  Her passion for the eReader made me want one in the worst way! My husband broke down and bought one for me this past July, and I have to say it's one of the best investments ever!

Here's a few reasons why:

1. It does feel like you're holding a book. Especially if you put a cover on it! True, most eReaders are a little more light weight, but I still feel like I'm reading a book.

2. Storage. My husband loves the eReader because at long last my books are not piling up everywhere in our bedroom. Now they are all neatly compact and stored on my Kindle.

3. Eye strain. This is another crazy excuse I hear all the time about why an eReader is bad. Most eReaders are designed to make it easy on your eyes, to prevent glare if you are outside, to have bigger font if you need bigger letters. If you're eReader isn't doing that, you've got the wrong one.

4.Expense. Best sellers and new releases are still going to be expensive. However, there are lots of other books out there that are cheap or even free. Also, if you have 3G on your eReader, you can purchase books wherever you are at.

5. Portability. Yep, you can stick them in your purse, briefcase, backpack, whatever. Because they are light weight, they usually don't feel as heavy as toting around a book does.

So if you are considering an eReader for that special loved one in your life, I can also recommend a few books that would make great gifts to try out on it. For example, Nephilim and All Things Dark and Dastardly are both available for the eReader. Click on any of the books links on the right hand side of the page to learn more!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Weird Holiday Gifts

I've been seeing some strange suggestions for gifts this year. Maybe Hander Pants, underpants for your hands is the strangest. I wasn't aware that my hands are private parts. Mine never seem to have unseemly discharges. So I can't understand why they'd need underpants.

Here are a couple from Baron Bob: a bacon ornament ( and an inflatable turkey ( The turkey is on sale, maybe because it's after Thanksgiving and going into Christmas people are thinking more of inflatable hams. The bacon ornament is still full price as of this writing.

A voice-activated R2D2 is selling for an astonishingly low price of $199.95 ( at Hammacher Schlemmer. Where else? These speakers from the same place ( are not only ugly, impractical, easy to break, but are also $60,000.00.  That's not a typo. There are no extra zeroes there. Oh yes, and they weigh 192 pounds.

You could spend over $10 on a piece of wood ( created for the purpose of knocking on wood. Are there people who live in completely plastic houses? Who have no wood anywhere? Or who are constantly hexing themselves and feel a need to always counter it by having a handy piece of wood, a piece of wood that comes in a carrying case? I suppose some people work in plastic places. Maybe. I use my head when I can't find anything else to knock on.

I guess our short story anthology will be looking like a pretty good holiday buy by now! For the low, low price of $9.95--$4.99 for the digital versions--you can immerse yourself in weird tales by a cross section of Austin writers. Well, three of them anyway.

There's a handy link at the side where you can click to get ALL THING DARK AND DASTARDLY. You might need something to clear the sweet taste of sugar plums and fudge from your palate. This'll do it!

Monday, December 5, 2011

An Elliptical Blog

I'm feeling like discussing grammar today. Specifically, punctuation. That odd feeling sweeps over me more often than you'd think. In fact, one of my happiest moments at the Malice Domestic conference this year was discussing punctuation at the bar. Writers--what are you gonna do?

Our anthology group had a discussion as we were doing final edits for publication. Steve and I were of two minds about the ellipsis. I love the trails off into nothingness, and nothing else will do when that's what you want....

Steve likes to use the three dots both in the middle of the sentence (or group of phrases, if what you've written can't really be called a sentence). I like to use three dots in the middle and four at the end. This was recommended to me some time ago and it seems logical. I've been using it for several years. The three dots are the ellipsis and the other dot ends the sentence with a period. I mean, what about a trailing off question...? (I did see this once as a question?... But I can't accept that.) If the question gets an end punctuation mark, the sentence should too, in my mind.

Both are acceptable in the Chicago Manual, by the way, so that was no help in our debate.

My problem is, I want my punctuation to be logical. Probably a holdover from being a programmer for too many years. I even wish I were British so I could put the period or comma where it belongs at the end of a quote. I hate saying that my werewolf story, "Retransformation," is included in our anthology. I'd much rather say my story, "Retransformation", is included. Why on earth should that comma go inside the quote?

I don't want to be British to the extent that I'd have to drive on the wrong side of the road...just for punctuation, and then only just for some punctuation. I'm too used to using double quotes for dialog to change that.

Do you have grammar/punctuation/spelling idiosyncrasies in your writing that drive other people nuts? If you want to see which ellipsis style we settled on for our short stories, you'll have to get hold of our anthology and page through it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hill Country Book Store Signing

Hey friends, the All Things Writing gang will be in Georgetown tomorrow at the Hill Country Bookstore form 2-4pm. We will be selling and signing copies of our book All Things Dark and Dastardly! We'd love to see our friend, family, and fans there, so come on by.

We will have chocolate....

Also, this is a great chance to walk around the historic square at Georgetown and do some early Christmas shopping!

Hope to see you there.