Paranormal/Fantasy Romance Author

Advice

Writing Advice: Just Add Zombies

I take no credit for this one and just heard about it myself. An editor at Changeling Press passed it on to the authors and thus I’m passing it on to you (I needed the content anyway :P). It’s even Halloween-flavored. Thanks to Rebecca Johnson for sharing this great technique.

A sure fire way to tell passive voice and active voice. It’s one of those things with which every author struggles at some point. Most find a way around it and others have learned to edit it out.

For those who still get confused about whether or not a sentence is active or passive, just add zombies. Or more specifically add the phrase “by zombies” after the verb. If the sentence reads fine, then it is passive and you should think about revamping it. If the sentence reads funny, then it’s active and you’re fine.

Example (from unknown FB person – Thanks!):

“She was killed [by zombies].”
* Makes sense? Yes. It’s passive voice.

“Zombies killed [by zombies] her.”
* Makes sense? No. It’s active voice.

Show Me the Money Project

I just found this blog post by Brenda Hiatt and LOVE it! This is information authors and future authors need to know about the publishers they wish to be with.

This blog (updated as Brenda receives info) lays out advances and earn outs for most of the top publishers.

Check out the information and be amazed:

Show Me the Money!

Writing Update 07 Feb

The first chapter for Harley on the Rocks is available to read at my promo blog – D. Renee Bagby Presents First Chapters

Also, my hubby helped me name the female lead of my latest novella. Some might think, “Just pick a name,” but it’s not that simple. I have to make sure not to repeat a name I’m already using (I have several books started). I also have to choose a name that sounds/feels right and doesn’t annoy me.

You might be wondering how I could write the book without having the main character named. Simple. I use a place holder, usually “AAA”. I do that for all the characters without names, just working my way down the alphabet. Usually heroines are AAA and heroes are BBB. Once I come up with a name, I do a “Replace All” with match case. Problem solved.

It’s a trick another author (who I can’t remember now) told me. I no longer get hung up trying to name a character, thus keeping me from actually writing the book. Very handy.

RT Con Advice #3: Carolan Ivey


Fellow Samhellion Carolan Ivey (who was also with me at the Romance Junkies Chat at the beginning of January) has two blogs worth of info. They are equal parts hilarious and informative.

Thirteen Things You Can’t Live Without at RT

1. No fear of crowds. If you’re claustrophobic, get in shape for using the stairs because the elevators will be packed!

2. Items to make your room as much of a peaceful sanctuary as possible: Music, candles, ear plugs, aromatherapy eye mask, your favorite comfort tea or coffee, your own pillow, bunny slippers, etc.

3. Food – Bring your own, because you can never depend on finding decent food at the hotel. Or, even if they do have a good restaurant or two on premises, you may not get a table.

Read the full list

13 Clues (plus a few more) You Might be an RT Veteran

  • (If flying…) You have one suitcase for promo, one suitcase for costumes, and no room for regular clothes.
  • Your carry-on bag is stuffed with healthy snacks, because from past experience you know after three days of all-chocolate-all-the-time, you’ll be desperate for a piece of fresh fruit.
  • (If driving…) You bargain with your long-suffering husband to remove both rear bench seats out of the back of the van, and you still worry there won’t be enough room for all your promo.
  • Read the full list

    RT Con Advice #2: Virginia Ettel

    My first contributor to this advice thread is Virginia Ettel and she has this to say:

    Bookmark this website: http://www.tsa.gov/index.shtm

    This is the website for the Transportation Safety Administration. Unless you’re driving your own car from home, you need the information here. Most people don’t travel often enough to know all of the does & don’ts about packing & traveling these days. This is the place to get the RIGHT answers.
    —-

    Sound advice for you all flyers. I’m driving. 😀

    RT Con Advice #1: Me

    Well, the Romantic Times BOOKlovers Convention in Orlando, FL is just around the corner. No seriously. It is literally around the corner. You’re going to blink and it’ll be April. Watch.

    There are plenty of people going to RT Con for the very first time. I’ve been there and done that and I’m going to post advice about my experience so future RT virgins know a little about what they are getting into. Along with me, I’ve invited other RT Con vets to post advice to my blog so everything is in one place as an easy reference.

    I’ll be posting these jewels of wisdom every Monday until the week of RT Con (mostly because I’ll be on the road that Monday and the cops frown on people who use their computers and drive at the same time, never mind that you’ve seen them doing it too… tangent topic ;P)

    This is a never ending list and it may be a little daunting, but nothing said is without merit or purpose.

    So, on with the show…

    RT Con Advice #1: Things You Should Pack

    Clothes – Well there’s a duh moment, huh? Of course you want clothes. You want to make a splash at RT Con but running around naked isn’t the way to go. However, sometimes stating the obvious comes in handy for some people. You get so hung up with everything else, you forget the essentials.

    So, what kinds of clothes? Casual, business casual, and formal. But most of all COMFORTABLE. I can’t stress that enough. During the day, you will be running around and lugging books and meeting people and so on. You want and NEED to be comfortable. Don’t bring clothes you aren’t used to wearing (the same goes for shoes). I was jeans-and-logo-shirt gal during the days and dress-up-for-the-party at night. Just make sure your clothes are presentable — no holes, stains, dirt, etc.

    And like my mommy always told me, bring extra underwear. You never know what’ll happen and you don’t want to assume there will be a store nearby that won’t completely gouge you on the cost of something as mundane as undies.

    Cell Phone – NOT OPTIONAL!!! RT Con is big and jam packed with people. Two steps into the hotel, you’ve lost your party, they were just there, and the building didn’t even look that big from the outside. It will happen. You’ll turn your back for a second and when you look back your friends are missing. Cell phones are a complete must just to keep track of everyone.

    If you don’t own a cell phone, for whatever reason. Drop some money and get a pay-as-you-go phone. There is no contract. You pay for minutes and the phones are usually pretty inexpensive. The expense is a tax write-off and pretty much guarateed peace of mind. You won’t spend the entire convention looking for your party. Just make sure you have everyone’s numbers stored in your phone (or written somewhere) for easy reference.

    Laptop – Speaking of gadgets. Don’t forget your laptop. Inspiration might hit and you’ll want to find a quiet corner and write. It’s not uncommon to see people tucked away typing at RT Con. Don’t feel guilty. We’re all writers or part of the writing machine and totally understand the need to type.

    A laptop with internet connection also comes in handy for showing off video trailers that you’ve uploaded to various sites, your website, your book pages, and whatever else might impress a potential reader or publisher/agent.

    Business Cards – If you don’t have any, get some. Business cards are easier to carry than bookmarks (and most other promo) and they don’t get bent up as easily.

    Promo – Why didn’t I lump business cards with promo? I see them as two separate entities. Business cards are you. Promo is your books. Bookmarks, cover flats, postcards, flyers, et al. Make sure you have a good supply of it. You never know when a visiting bookseller might want to take it all home with them (it could happen) so they can give it out to their customers.

    On the flip side, don’t bankrupt yourself buying thousands of everything. If you run out, there is always your… you guessed it… business cards. They are your fall back and your tell all. Your business cards should have your website URL and your website should have all the info about your releases.

    Your Print Books – You’re in print and that’s great. You’ll more than likely be signing at the giant book fair on Saturday and RT is having the books shipped in for you. That doesn’t mean you don’t bring a few copies (2 or 3 of your most recent) of your own. Why? To give them away. Huh? Yes, to give them away. Book reviewers, book sellers, agents, and editors attend this event (along with many other industry peoples). I don’t know about you, but I’d rather put a copy of my book in an agent/editor’s hands than a bookmark.

    Books – Not yours, other people’s. You’ve already bought them, so get them signed. That’s what the authors are there for. Don’t go overboard and try to haul your entire library to this event. You WILL be going home with books. Unless you give them all away as you get them, you will be getting lots and lots of free books (got those signed too).

    Check out the list of attending authors and bring your all time fav books for your all time fav author to sign. Just be prepared to mail stuff home.

    Camera – Hello! Famous people! Authors whose books you’ve read thousands of times! MODELS!!!! A camera will record it all and remind you that you didn’t dream the whole thing.

    Snacks – I’m not talking about sandwich fixings or candy. I mean snack cakes, granola bars or fruit cups — something light weight, finger-friendly, low mess-making and filling to raise your blood sugar a little in between meals and give you a boost. You never realize how tired you are until you sit down and then it hits you all at once. And, you don’t want to be snapping at people because you’re hungry. Not to mention, it’s so hectic and there is so much going on that you forget to eat. Yes, you do. Time gets away from you and suddenly it’s night time and the last time you ate was breakfast.

    Water – Or a sports drink. You need hydration even more so than usual because you’re probably going to be doing more talking in the next five days than you have in the entire year. Sodas will only dehydrate you more. Have a ready supply of bottled drinks. Carry one with you and stash the rest in your room.

    On top of that, you want to avoid drinking from sources that have been sitting out and breathed on for long periods of time. People from literally around the world are converging on one spot and all their germs are coming with them. You don’t want to spend the convention sick.

    Meds – Bring a bottle of your preferred cold medicine in case a bug finds you. The stress and crowds will weaken your defenses, so be prepared. It might be a good idea to start dosing yourself on Vitamin C and Echinacea (and other immune building vitamins) now, just to build yourself up.

    Also, if you take medications for whatever reason, you’ll need them. You probably wouldn’t leave them behind just like you wouldn’t leave your clothes. What you wouldn’t think to bring is a copy of your prescription just in case something happens to your meds while at the hotel. Have a copy of your prescription or (if the your doctor doesn’t do that) then have your doctor’s phone number handy so you can get in touch if wacky happens.

    For the ladies
    Feminine Care – Tampons, pads, pantyliners. BRING THEM. I don’t care if you just finished the day before heading out to the convention. I already said stress does wacky things to the body. Well wacky goes crazy in the female body. Don’t tempt fate. Don’t depend on the local stores either. They will happily over charge for something you could have gotten for cheaper at home.

    Why Ask Why

    Screw W5H (who, what, where, when, why, and how), so far as I’m concerned the only one that matters is WHY.

    One of my biggest pet peeves is finishing a book and wondering about something the author left dangling. As an author, I understand there are things you can’t put in the book no matter how much you want to. Constraints of story flow and info overload render a lot of info the author has useless, especially us world-builders. Sure it’s a great tidbit but, unless you’re JRR Tolkien, no one will sit thru a dissertation about the Shire when it doesn’t influence the plot or relationship.

    However, there are times in Romance when plot is sacrificed so the hero and heroine can get to happily ever after a little bit faster (or a sex scene). Whether by mistake or on purpose, some authors leave certain things hanging and the reader is left asking “why?”.

    Whenever someone asks me about writing advice, I say the same thing — ask “why?”. Keep asking why until you know everything there is to know about the main characters and their story. It may not make it to the book, but at least you know. A better understanding of one’s characters isn’t a bad thing. Look at JK Rowling (yes, yes, she didn’t write romance). She knew the names of every student in Harry’s class. That info never made it to the books, but she had it just in case, along with a whole host of other info.

    Asking why forces you, the author, to flesh out characters and plots. If the heroine dyes her hair purple, why? Does she like the color? Is she making a statement? Is her favorite sports team playing and she has tickets to the game? Did she lose a bet? When she shows up to work on Monday with purple hair, despite trying to wash out the color that swore it was temporary, and her boss/love interest asks her about it, an answer is appreciated. Even if the heroine dodges and doesn’t answer aloud, inner monologue would convey the answer to the reader and why she didn’t want to tell the person the reason.

    Personally, I’m the type of writer who leaves a lot of explanation to the very end. That’s an influence I picked up from anime. You wanna know the answer, you gotta stick with me to the end. But, things will get answered.

    Why do I leave to the end?
    – It builds suspense and/or anticipation.

    Why build suspense and/or anticipation?
    – To keep the reader turning the pages.

    Why keep the reader turning the pages?
    – So they’ll read the whole book.

    Why do you want them to read the whole book?
    – So they can find out WHY.

    Why did they fall in love? Why were they being chased? Why is he tortured? Why is she weepy? Why did the car not start when he just got a tune up the day before? Why ask why?

    Because, ending a story with unresolved issues (whether they be plot or relationship) makes for unhappy readers and unhappy readers don’t return.

    Next Weeks Topic: I/R Movies (a list ’cause I’m getting lazy)

    Good Advice Part One

    I’ve titled this post “Good Advice Part One” because I know more advice will be coming my way over time and I’ll need to add to this list. Warning – this initial list is pretty long but everything mentioned is important.

    There are certain things every single author — whether electronic or print or both — should know, but some don’t. This profession is a never-ending learning experience. Thankfully, I’ve fallen in with lots of writers who are willing and happy to share all their advice to help me get ahead and avoid mistakes. Now, I’m sharing that with all of you.

    These aren’t in any particular order, sorry about that.

    GOOD ADVICE EVERY AUTHOR SHOULD KNOW AND HEED PART ONE:

    1 – Signature vs. Autograph
    Protect yourself. If you plan to sign things for fans make sure your autograph is different from your signature. Sit down and practice something cute looking if you have to, but keep the two separate since you don’t want people forging your signature.

    2 – PO Box
    This is another protect yourself type thing. You don’t want everyone and their mother knowing where you live (some of them might drop by and visit). Let’s face it there are some weird people in the world, so get a post office box. It’s a tax write-off (those are always nice) and they aren’t expensive.

    3 – Brand
    Branding is important for promoting YOU. I have two: D. Renee Bagby = Leave Your Reality Behind and Zenobia Renquist = Imagination: Reality’s Evil Twin. A brand is like a jingle, it helps people remember you, so put it on everything. Format your personal email signature so it’s there automatically. Put it on every post you send to loops. It should be the second line of your signature after your name. You want them associated together at all times. It should appear on all paper promo and internet promo. You want your brand to be just as memorable (and possibly annoying) as those HeadOn commercials — hey, say what you want, you remember them, don’t you?

    4 – Carry Paper Promo
    You spent time and money on bookmarks, business cards, etc then you should be carrying them around with you at all times, ready to hand them out at a moment’s notice. Make sure you keep them someplace they won’t get bent or torn. No one wants something that looks like a hand-me-down. Your paper promo (or any promo) is an extension of you and should reflect the image you are trying to convey. (oh wait… that sentence goes with the next one too)

    5 – Professional Looking Paper Promo
    Do-it-Yourself or printing service doesn’t matter, make sure your paper promo is crisp, clean, and professional looking. Frayed/torn edges, typos, runny ink, and other imperfections reflect badly on you. If the company you use screws them up, send them back and have them redone (then don’t use their service again). If you do them yourself, make sure your printer and cutting tools are up to the task.

    6 – Watch Your Mouth
    Once you publish something, you’re officially a representative of yourself and your publisher. Don’t embarrass either by getting into flame wars or bad mouthing authors/publishers/reviewers. This goes for internet and especially in public. It’s okay to gripe about things, but keep it to personal friends and out of the public forum. You never know who’s friends with who or who’s reporting what, and your mouth could screw you out of a publishing contract (I’ve heard horror stories, believe me).

    7 – Censor Yourself (this goes with the above, somewhat)
    Retrace your steps in your internet past. If you were an opinionated internet personality prior to getting published (or wanting to be published), then track down your words and put them under lock and key if you think they might get you in trouble. If it’s a journal, put the posts on private so only you can see them. If it’s posts to a forum, see if you can get them locked or deleted. Publishers and agents know how to use the internet and they do searches when considering new talent. Getting published isn’t just about your writing, it’s about you too.

    8 – Be True To Yourself (contradiction time)
    Act the same way on the internet as you would in person. If the fans get to know you on a loop, then they expect you to act the same way in person. Changing up in public is a shock and may scare away readers who thought you were someone else entirely.

    9 – Don’t Use Name Brands
    You love to buy them, but don’t write about them. There are sooooo many ways to get around mentioning a famous name brand. If you drop enough hints, people will get the picture without you having to spell it out. Or, a trick they use in anime, change a single letter in the brand name so it’s still recognizable but the company can’t sue you if they don’t like you representing them in your book.

    10 – Mailing Lists Are a Must
    Keep in touch with your fans. Email or snail mail doesn’t matter, but both are ideal. If a fan is willing to give you their snail mail address, make sure to send them promo. Keep in touch with newsletters that give updates about your writing career (and your life if you’re so inclined). The same goes for starting a loop. It’s all about keeping you on the minds of your fans.

    11 – BACKUPS VERY IMPORTANT!!
    I did a whole post on this but it bears mentioning again. If you love it, then protect it. Whatever your method, make sure you do it often and without fail.

    12 – Bookmark Surprise
    (I need to do this) So, you have all these bookmarks sitting around with no way to get rid of them besides handing them out to random people on the street. March into your local bookstore, go to your genre section, pick a book (something in your theme or just random in your genre), and stuff a bookmark inside. It’s a surprise for the person who buys it and they’ll think of you every time they remember finding it.

    Now, this comes with a word of warning. The big name bookstores might not be too happy with you if they catch you doing this (matter of fact, I’m pretty sure they won’t be). It’s not illegal but it is frowned upon, so be as inconspicuous (read – sneaky) as you can. I also urge you NOT to do this at indy bookstores. Chances are, if you ask the owner, they will be more than happy to hand out your paper promo with every purchase. The same can’t be said for the big stores because they aren’t allowed. I’m not sure, but I think the big stores get paid to hand out promo by publishers so they won’t just hand yours out for free. They will put it on a promo table that’s usually situated next to the bathroom. I’d suggest just hiding it in a few books.

    And, don’t just hit bookstores. There are tons of places that carry books: Target, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, grocery stores, etc. Hit them too. The more people see your name, the easier it is for them to remember.

    13 – DON’T PAY!
    You do NOT pay to have your submission read. You do NOT pay to have your manuscript published. Publishers and agents get paid when your book SELLS, NOT BEFORE. And then, they don’t get the money from you, they get the money from your sales. This same advice goes for reviews. Paying for a review sounds too much like bribery and what if your review sucks? You just paid for a crap review. They already get to read your book for free, that should be enough. Paying to be published or reviewed is like paying for sex and you know what they say about people who pay for sex…

    14 – Promote Yourself
    In the words of Jamie Denton (THANKS, JAMIE!!), books come and go but you’re here to stay. It’s YOUR name you want readers to remember. If they look up your name, they can always find your books. But, there may be a few books out there with the same name as yours (in romance, that’s almost a given). Make sure your name appears on everything you post (which reminds me, I need to change some stuff with my signature lines).

    15 – Keep Book Paper Promo to a Minimum
    If you’re advertising an ebook then the internet should be your main forum of promotion. That’s not to say you shouldn’t have bookmarks et al, but don’t go nuts with them. Remember, books come and go. If you’re a prolific writer, as soon as you’re ready to hand out postcards and such it’s already time for the next book to come out. Think about combining books on advertising or simply promoting yourself on your paper promo. Another thing you can do is order/make what you need. If you know a convention is coming up (whether you’re going or not) and they are expecting X number of people, ONLY order/make that much. You never know when you’re going to want to change the design or the info and you don’t want to be stuck with old and out-dated.

    16 – They Say 300, Send 250
    A lot of conventions (and other gatherings) always say they are “expecting” X number of people and would love paper promo. You’re all gung-ho to send it to them too. Go for it, but be frugal. If they say they’re expecting 300 people then send 200-250 of your items. A lot of times, there are tons of goody bags left over after a convention and you don’t want your promo getting tossed — does you no good in the trash. More than likely, the bags with the most promo will be offered first and the ones with the least will be last (the whole you-snooze-you-lose mentality).

    17 – Sign It
    Postcards, bookmarks, brochures, etc sign them all. If you’re sending them out to a convention or handing them out on the street, sign them. People are less inclined to throw it away if it’s signed. They think it might be worth money one day when you hit it big.

    18 – Tell Everyone
    My mother tells everyone she meets about me and my books. Cashiers, random people in the mall, it doesn’t matter. If she stops to talk to them, then they learn about me. You should do the same. Work your books into the conversation and give out your promo to all the people you meet. They may not read that genre but they might know someone who does. OR, you might get a new recruit to your genre because that person wanted to read your book BECAUSE they met you. Remember: Writer = mini-celebrity.

    19 – “Autographed By Author” Stickers
    Planned signing or drive-by signing, you need “autographed by author” stickers. Not every store will have them on hand. You need to have your own. They aren’t expensive (another tax write-off). Heck, you can go to the places that offer personalized stickers and make your own with your name and brand on them. Then people will keep it on the book simply because it’s not generic.

    20 – Drive-By Signings
    Is your book in print? Does your local store have some copies (if not, will they order them in)? If so, get the manager-on-duty’s permission and start signing. There’s a trick to this and you have to do it right. First, locate ALL your books. Second, go to customer service and tell them you want to sign your books. You need to introduce yourself (show ID if you have to) and ask if there are any other copies in the back. Third, get the MOD’s permission. They probably won’t mind or care but it’s good manners to ask. And fourth, when you are done signing, PUT THEM BACK! Don’t make work for people, that leaves a bad impression and that’s the last thing you want (I work in retail as a day job and I HATE when people don’t put stuff back). Also, when you put it back yourself, you can face the books out so people see them. That “autographed by author” sticker will jump out at impulse buyers and your books will fly off the shelf. Not to mention, the store will be less inclined to send your books back to the publisher.

    21 – Feed Them
    People love food. Duh. When doing a signing, feed the employees of the place where your signing is held and the people who stop at your booth. Think neat (cookies over donuts and so one). More than likely you’re in a bookstore. Messy food and books don’t go together. It might also be a good idea to ask if it’s okay for you to have your little goodies in the store. Some bookstores don’t allow food.

    Have an assortment. Chocolate is nice, but not everyone likes, or can eat, chocolate. Keep in mind those people on a special diet (diabetics, weight watchers, etc). If you only have chocolate, those people might be a little annoyed that you didn’t think of them and you just lost a sale. And, individually wrapped is a lovely thing, just make sure you ask the store people for a trashcan to keep the mess to a minimum.

    22 – Collect Business Cards (I’ve mentioned this before)
    Collecting business cards is good for two reasons:
    A – They give you design ideas for your own (the same goes for bookmarks and everything else).
    B – Most business cards have mailing addresses on them. If someone puts their mailing info (email or snail) on a business card then that is permission to use it. If they didn’t want you to use it then they wouldn’t have put it on there (remember that when making your own). When it’s time to send out postcards, unearth all those business cards and make sure they all get one. Same goes for promo time, email everyone.

    23 – Write Now, Edit Later
    Don’t get so hung up on form that you don’t get the book written. Your first goal is to get the manuscript finished. Nothing else can happen until you do. If you have to write the ending first, then go for it. If you can’t name your characters until the last word is written, that’s not a problem.

    Write however you feel the most comfortable in order to get the job done. Worry about editing and grammar and all the rest when you’re done (or when you’re blocked). Make sure the manuscript is polished and gleaming BEFORE you submit and have a few trusted and honest people critique it, but don’t worry about that until the time comes. Get finished then you can sweat the small stuff.

    24 – Keep Writing
    Don’t sit around waiting for your submission/publication date. Start writing the next manuscript. Most publishers have a long review time for new submissions (already contracted authors don’t have so much of a wait), any where from one to six months. That’s a long time to go without writing something. And then, after you’re accepted, it might be another six to twelve months before your story is actually published. Take it from me (who has a HUGE gap between her first and second book), DON’T WAIT. Write, write, and write some more. Finish one, celebrate, take the rest of the day off, then start the next the following day.

    25 – IF YOU DON’T KNOW, ASK!!
    Don’t be afraid to ask someone. People will help you but you have to open your mouth first. If they don’t know the answer, they might be able to direct you to someone who does. When things don’t sound quite right, ask somebody. If I didn’t have a piece of advice in my list that you’re wondering about, ask me. I may have just forgot OR I don’t know and would love to hear it and add it for next time’s list.
    ——————-

    Every piece of advice on this list is important. As I said, I’ll be adding to it as I learn new things just so I can relay them to you.

    Whew! That took a while.

    Next week’s topic: Why Ask Why. More writing advice, but this is more of an opinion and personal philosophy. Hope to see you there.

    Importance of Back-ups

    While this topic isn’t as fun of as some of my others, it is very, very, extremely important for every writer of every genre. Hell, it’s important for anyone who stores their brain children on their computer.

    Let’s face it, people, as much as you love your computer and its convenience, the stupid machine does the darnedest things at the worst possible times. I haven’t seen a blue-screen-of-death in years, but have you ever hit the power button and have nothing happen? That’s the worst feeling in the world when you think of all the stories you’ve drafted that are now being held hostage on your malfunctioning hard drive.

    This doesn’t have to be you so long as you back-up your work. Please, please, please don’t be one of those people who thinks nothing like system crashes or viruses or whatever will ever happen to you. You’re usually the first to fall victim (cliché but true…. hmmm should this have been on my list in the last post?)

    I’m here to offer suggestions. Use whichever you like or a combination, just make sure you do one of them. There are no excuses for not doing this, especially after reading this post. If you love your work, then you will find time to do something to protect it.

    On with the list:

    1 – Print everything
    Okay, this is a bit nuts and costly, but it needed mentioning. If you’ve got the ink, paper, and storage space, then go for it. More power to you.

    2 – CDs or DVDs
    If you have enough literary works on your harddrive to fill up a DVD then I’m in awe of you and you are a writing god. 😉 I know artists’ works take up way more room than a standard sized manuscript which is why I listed CDs and DVDs.

    This is my poison of choice. I use pocket CD-Rs (210MB, 50 in a pack). I currently have 4 spools and I’m working on my third. Whenever I make any changes to anything, whether it be current or future or just brainstorming, I make a backup CD. It takes like five minutes. I don’t compromise this rule. If I so much as change a punctuation mark, I’m backing it up before I leave my computer for the day. This may sound paranoid but I sleep well at night knowing my work is safe should my computer decide to fry itself while I’m away.

    You might worry about storage space. Don’t. They’re CDs (or DVDs). Shred them once they get to a certain age, like six months or something. Please don’t just throw them away… unless you don’t mind someone else publishing your work. And if you don’t own a shredder, I’m going to have to smack you (that’s a discussion for later).

    There is a warning for this suggestion: Beware rewritable media. You may mistakenly write over your back-up and then it’s gone and you’re back to square one. Not to mention, rewritables wear out after a while.

    3 – Flash/Thumb Drives and Memory Cards
    I also have a PDA with a 512 memory card (waaaay more room than I’ll ever need). Just like with the pocket CDs, whenever I update my works, I synchronize with my PDA thus saving them on my memory card. This is mostly so I can work on my stories when I’m away from my computer.

    The fun of drives or cards is you can carry your manuscripts around with you and work on them whenever you get to a computer with your word processing software. Or, go my route and get a PDA, which ever.

    Another warning: Don’t lose it! Most thumb and flash drives come on key chains so you can keep track of them. If you put your memory card in then remember to take it out. As added protection, figure out how to encrypt the data. If you have to put a password on every single file then do it. At least then you know your works are safe if you happen to misplace or lose the drive/card somewhere. Don’t use obvious passwords, like the title of the work. I think the best password would be the name of some throwaway character in that particular book — no one would ever guess… hell, you may even forget. ;P

    4 – Friends and Family
    You’ve got beta readers (I should hope… oh god, please have beta readers or a critique group… I feel scared) or that one family member who wants to read everything you’ve written two seconds after you write it. Use these people (not that you aren’t already).

    If you trust someone to sit on your manuscripts as a backup, do it. Said person may not want daily emails of the same manuscript because you changed a “but” to a “because”, but they’ll keep the current most incarnation safe. If something happens, you may not have the version with the “because” in but at least you don’t have to start over from scratch.

    Your editor, if you have one, might not mind sitting on your manuscripts for you either. It gives them the chance to read stuff while you’re working on it.

    The only problem with this is if their computer crashes too. (I’m just a ray of sunshine, aren’t I?)

    5 – Website
    In my opinion, use this option last and sparingly and be very careful. For those people who are paying for their domain name and web hosting and you can upload whatever you want, upload your manuscripts. This doesn’t mean you have to link to them. Stick them in a password protected file (can’t emphasize that enough), and they are at your fingertips whenever and where ever.

    I warn of caution because of hackers or just the random person with dumb luck. If someone gets into your index file then they will see you have your manuscripts on your site. This is where the password comes in handy. Slap a password on the file where the manuscripts are housed and whoever may know they’re there but they can’t get to them. If you want to be really paranoid, password the folder they’re in and then password the files themselves.

    6 – Second Hard Drive
    Some people have multiple hard drives, for what ever reason. A second hard drive just for your work isn’t a bad idea if you’ve got the money for it. External hard drives are just larger versions of thumb/flash drives. They do the same things but the external has way more space so you can back up everything not just your work.

    Besides the bulkiness of it, I can’t think of a downside to having a second hard drive… unless it gets the same virus that took out your main hard drive. Did I mention I’m a devil’s advocate in my free time, otherwise known as a cynic (actually, I think I mentioned that in one of my earlier posts)?

    A second hard drive can also be a laptop if you use a desktop and vice versa, or two separate laptops.

    7 – Email Yourself
    For those of us who use internet-based mail clients like Gmail and Hotmail and Yahoo et al, one of the easiest back-ups is emailing your manuscript to yourself. Depending on your connection speed, this takes little to no time at all.

    If you have multiple internet-based accounts (like me) then designate one account as a holding cell for your work. Email it to that address and file it away in a folder you designate. Just make sure not to reach the host’s space allowance or they’ll start deleting from the oldest to the newest.

    This may seem obvious to some, but I feel the need to mention this doesn’t work if you are using Outlook or any other program that runs off your computer. You face the same problem you did before, since you sent it from your computer to your computer. It essentially didn’t move.

    8 – Develop Photographic Memory
    This is obviously a gag, but I had to say it. The person with a photographic memory never has to worry about backups. They’ll just bitch about having to re-write it all but not having to re-imagine it.

    9 – Use a Typewriter
    This is only partially a gag. The age of typewriters is gone and it’s a shame.
    ———-

    That’s all I can think of. If you have other suggestions, post them in the comments section for others to take advantage of.

    I hope everyone will take this seriously. I’ve heard too many horror stories of lost work in the last two months. Condolences are nice, suggestions after the fact are appreciated, but options of preventative measures are much better.

    Even if you write until you can’t see straight, un-blur your eyes long enough to back up your work. Tired and sleepy beats pissed off any day.

    On a side note: Archive your blog entries in dated text files on your hard drive on the off chance that your blog host may decide to dump your blog. This has already happened to a few people.

    I’ve done my civic duty for the week. Next week’s topic is another must read for authors and soon-to-be authors: Good Advice Every Writer Should Know and Heed – this is all the stuff I’ve picked up since I’ve started writing and I’m passing it on so everyone can benefit.

    Hoarding Addresses

    First, Adrienne hit #9 on MBaM’s bestseller list on July 17th and has stayed there. Thank you all for enjoying my work. I’m tremendously glad you like it (I can’t say that enough).

    Second, I totally didn’t get to the goals I listed last week. I’m still working on my revisions (which means I haven’t implemented them yet), I didn’t get a chance to read anything because I’ve been working on my revisions in all my free time, and I didn’t finish the bookmarks. Now, I did see Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and post the review on my LJ and I did get my newsletter written.

    I’m glad I didn’t get to my bookmarks because only one person entered the contest and I decided to change the design so I could include one with the gift I’m sending to another author’s prize giveaway. I’m contributing a small plush panther (because of Feyr) with a bookmark and some promo stuff. I’m going to come up with a themed gift for every book. I’m kind of stumped on what I should give for Serenity, but I’ll figure it out later.

    On to the topic…

    HOARDING ADDRESSES

    When Adrienne got contracted, I started gathering up addresses of friends and family and making sure they were accurate. That wasn’t too hard since I send out X-Mas cards every year. If they bounce back then the address is crap and I won’t send to that person again until I get a valid address.

    On top of that, I added a mailing list function to my website to get even more snail mail addresses from those people willing to give me that info. Thanks to all the people who entered my mailing list (snail mail and email). They get little extras every now and again. 🙂

    I thought that was the end of it. Nope. Baha W., a co-worker of mine at my day job, gave me the best advice ever. He told me to use the addresses on business cards that I get. If someone gives me a business card and it has their address, mail them stuff. I only plan to mail promo postcards, but it’s still one more person seeing my book ad and thinking about buying.

    I’m not a business card type of person. People gave them to me and I would shove them in my purse and forget about them. No more. I’ve started searching for business cards. I welcome them and gladly, especially those with addresses on them. Hell, even the ones with email addresses are fair game. I’ll email them a promo just the same.

    Every little bit helps and you never know what people read or will read unless you give them the opportunity. Another author suggested putting bookmarks in with all my bills. I don’t normally mail my bills (age of internet and all that), but a handful of them I do and those lucky people (whoever opens the letter) will get a bookmark. I wrangled my friend into including my bookmarks with her bills too.

    I might slip them into my Netflix envelopes too. ;P Nothing is safe. I bought all this promo stuff and it does no good sitting around my study. Actually, I didn’t buy a lot. Most of what I’ve ordered was ordered with a specific purpose in mind (lots of people having conventions and asking for promo stuff for goody bags).

    That’s my Hoarding Addresses rant.

    Now, this time I plan to set some realistic goals. 🙂

    1 – Read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It’ll be here in a few hours and I plan to read it…the whole thing. I won’t stop until I’m done. If I don’t do it this way (which is no big deal because this is how I read anyway), I won’t be able to get on the internet or watch TV. People don’t know how to keep their mouths shut and I know someone is going to blab the ending.

    2 – Finish my woven bookmarks. I told Desta H. that I’d have her prize for entering my contest in the mail on Monday and by God, I will. I’ve set aside all of Sunday to get it done, since today (Saturday) is Harry Potter day.

    3 – Finish my revisions for Kashmir. This time I mean it. I should be done this week. I only have forty more pages. I think I’m going to lapse on my end of July personal deadline (totally finished and submitted) but not by much. *shrug* Oh well, I tried but I don’t want to rush.

    4 – Get stuff in the mail. I have several things sitting around my study that need to be mailed. Promo stuff for those conventions I mentioned earlier.

    I’m pretty sure those goals I can finish. 🙂

    Next week’s topic: Love vs. Hate: Volatile relationships in romance and why I love them.

    Lack of Opinion

    First, I’d like to state (for the record) that of the goals I mentioned last week I didn’t get to the speakers. They are still strewn haphazardly around the room waiting for me to get off my butt. Actually, I wish being on my butt was my only problem. It’s being on my butt in front of my computer that’s keeping me from getting stuff done.

    Anywho, on to my topic of this week. Topics keep me focused, which is good thing because my tangents are killer. ;P

    LACK OF OPINION

    What does that mean?

    I, the author hoping for fame, am no longer allowed to say and/or post every little thought that comes to my head for fear of insulting someone.

    I, the author whose book you liked until I opened my mouth, can only voice my opinions on certain subjects–politics, religion, other authors’ books, publishers, reviewers, booksellers, etc–with a handful of friends and family in a closed setting.

    I, the author who used to be an everyday person just like everyone else, have the right and responsibility to remain silent because my sales depend on people liking me as well as my books.

    You know what? I liked life better when I was just writing the books and that was it. Don’t get me wrong, I love that I’m being published and I really hope people enjoy my books–though violent they may be. But having to re-read a post fifty times before hitting send to make sure I didn’t type anything that might be taken the wrong way is stressing and annoying.

    I used to laugh at all the celebrities who would go out in public and show their ass (translation for those who need it – do and/or say something stupid–think Dixie Chicks and their Bush comment) then wonder why their sales started plummeting. I couldn’t understand why it was so hard for them to keep their mouths shut.

    Understanding has come and it sucks. Everything you say can and will be held against you in a public forum.

    You might wonder why I’m even bothering to write about this. Here’s the deal: I have a cynical sense of humor. Anyone who’s read any of my posts (or that knows me personally) knows this already. It’s just the way I am. I get around a bunch of people and say things to get a laugh. That’s gotta stop (or be toned down, ’cause I doubt I can stop) or else I might insult someone.

    If I insult someone because I say, for instance (disclaimer), the sky is green and nothing you say or show me will make me believe otherwise then I won’t be all that upset. However, if I insult someone because a joking comment that I made got them all pissed off with me, I’m going to get mad.

    So, here’s my disclaimer (that only a handful of people will read so it won’t do me any good anyhow):

    I am a cynic. I want to know where the rest of liquid went or is. I don’t care about the fullness of the glass, all I want to know is if the waiter stiffed me (half full) or if someone drank out of my glass (half empty). I don’t care which one but someone better fess up. ;P

    I believe in the Darwin awards because stupidity should always be rewarded.

    Murphy’s Law is a law for a reason. If something can go wrong, it will go wrong, and I don’t understand why you’re so surprised when it does. I prepare for the worst and then feel relieved when everything is okay. That little quirk of mine keeps me from going to see live anything (plays, musicals, et al) because I keep waiting for someone to screw up. I don’t want someone to mess up but I figure the odds are in their favor. Hence, I won’t see Wicked (to the disappointment of my husband) until someone stops being lazy and records it on DVD. The soundtrack is on CD, I don’t know what the hold up is.

    Life has made me this way, though sometimes I wonder if I was born this way since I’ve been like this as long as I can remember (and my parents tell me stories of stuff from before I can remember that back up my theory).

    So, in conclusion (because this is waaaaay longer than I thought it would be), I no longer have any opinion on anything that might get me in trouble. If I need to say something, I’ll put it in a story and blame the character. ;P

    Everything is roses, even if those roses have thorns. The birds are singing–noisy little bastards. And the sun is shining–it woke me up. Actually, my husband snoring woke me up but that’s a whole other rant.

    Next week’s topic (since I’m supposed to update this thing once a week–according to my own schedule) will be whatever happened during my book release. That’s TUESDAY, people. No excuses. At that time, I will include a rant about my failed book launch party in GA.