Hey there, lovely! I found you some free reads!
Scifi, fantasy, superhero, romance...drop me your e-mail and I'll send 'em with love! ^_^

What can I do for you?........Free Fic…....Writing_Tips
...Interviews…............Interactive Resumebyjenfinelli.com

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pitch First, Novel Later?

I don't know what you're like 'in-between projects,' but I'm a confused nervous wreck who just wants to read webcomics all day. So now that I've fixed up my story about the comic book character who shoots his author, I'm starting back on a high sci-fi to keep me from going insane while I wait for agents and possible revisions. Because I'll never get any of my day-work or studying done if I don't have a novel to keep me from reading webcomics all day.

I've got an idea, and I'd like to see what you think. This time, I'm not just diving in and writing the frikkin thing, even though it's all outlined and everything. This time, I'm writing the pitch first. I've had novels flop before (back in high school--DON'T TELL ANYONE GASP) because they didn't have coherency, and I found that the pitch for Issue 339 kept me going through those dead moments of, "does this book actually matter?"I knew exactly what my nerdy vengeful inner-Jason-Todd wanted to tell everyone, and I knew what I wanted to sell. If I needed a reminder, I went back to the pitch. While the book did end up going just a bit longer than I wanted, having the pitch early in the process kept me cutting as we went along. 80,000 words is much more reasonable than the, say, the ridiculous 150,000-word fluff I wrote back in high school.

I hope this pitch-to-myself-first thing works for this new story. I'm nervous as heck, because I really don't want to dive into a story and find it's unsaleable. I want to figure that out BEFORE I spend three months of my life churning out my soul. Too bad I can't, yannow, just put my pitch out there for an un-started novel and ask if it sounds like something an agent would pick up.

But that's the whole risky beauty of it, isn't it? In the end, we can't be certain. We hide from our families and friends, type like drunk sloths late into the 5 AM and 6 AM hours and then drag ourselves back into our 'day-jobs' three hours later. (Yes, I type like a drunk sloth at 6 AM--don't you?) We may not know if burning out our health or slowing down our social lives actually pays off. It's like jumping off a cliff, only without the excitement and the, yannow, death. It's like deciding to jump off a cliff day after day until you either learn to fly, or the cliff goes away. It's like being a bird.

Welp, that all sounds very ridiculous to me, but everything sounds ridiculous at 6 AM. What do you think? How do you decide your story's worth writing? Do you write only for yourself, or are you writing for a reader? What keeps you going through sloughs of doubt? And does it help to pitch first? Post in the comments below! Or just answer in your head--that's okay, too.

Here's the new story idea--
This morning, Lem's little brother crash-landed on a space flight trying to smuggle medicines to needy settlers. This afternoon, Lem's little sister 'misplaced' a super-powered killing machine somewhere in an infinite ocean. This evening, Lem's best friend will help her try out a shock-weapon that will backfire and slowly dissolve Lem into a sentient goop. This is normal stuff: Lem's a teenage intergalactic ninja, and her family fights alongside aliens of all species to stop a megalomaniac from 're-organizing' their galaxy into uniformity.

Now Lem's dying and trapped in her own head. She battles her way through terrifying memories while her best friend searches the galaxy for a cure--but when he finally manages to heal her, she awakens imprisoned in an underground sand-castle, not hidden in the hospital where she fell asleep. She also finds out her entire family's disappeared, and the megalomaniac dictator-wanna-be is mind-controlling Lem's allies with her own secret weapon. Worst of all, Lem's trip inside herself convinced her she's got more in common with the megalomaniac than she wanted to admit; she wants to save her universe, but now she may need to save herself first.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Author Interview with Joan Y. Edwards

Mrs. Edwards taught a writing workshop over at the Muse Online Writer's Conference, where I got a chance to hear a little about her work. My favorite thing about this interview is the positive message Joan brings about not giving up--so do read on!

Petre Pan: First off, you're already published as a children's book writer and illustrator. What's the key? In other words, what do you write, and why does it succeed? Tell us about your work, and share a few tips with us.

Joan Edwards: Thank you for interviewing me for your blog. I am very honored to be with you and your readers today. The key to getting your book published is “believing with unwavering faith that it will be published.” This means that you educate yourself and inspire yourself to keep on going towards publication. I believe if you are open to it and search for it, you will find your key to publication.

I write from my heart. I care about people, young and old. I do research. I read the craft books recommended by those who have made it. I read. I write. I share what seems to work for the pros. I share what has worked for me in my experience. I revise.

I teach. I love to teach. In teaching others, I learn the topic under study, even more deeply. I study the work of others by critiquing or reading books.

I love to learn something new. It inspires me. Even little things like a butterfly passing near me, inspires me. New inventions inspire me, not only because they are nifty, but also I know they didn’t listen to those voices that said, “IT CAN’T BE DONE. YOU CAN’T DO IT.” Hurray for them.

I believe this is why I succeed. Like the energizer bunny, I keep on going.

Petre Pan: Here's a curveball. What is the most important sound in the world--if you had to sum up the entire world in one sound, what would that sound be?

Joan Edwards: The most important sound in the world, if I had to sum up the entire world in one sound, would be the sound of the waves hitting on the shore. To me, it means that life continues on, that there is a rhythm to living, that I can depend on this continuous sound. That there is hope for my dreams and fun for my days. All I have to do is look for it and listen.

Petre Pan: What sound would describe your writing style? 

Joan Edwards: The sound that describes my writing style is the sound of laughter, perhaps an inner giggle or a smile but a pleasant sound of laughter as a path to wisdom.

Petre Pan: What word do you overuse when you write? 

Joan Edwards: When I write my first drafts, I use “then” way too many times. At one time I started every new paragraph with “then.” It is a most unnecessary word, yet I need it to get down the drafts out of my head into the computer. At revision time, I delete or replace them or with better words. I use the “find” factor in Word to find the ones that hide out from me. When revising this paragraph, I had to delete a “Then.”

Petre Pan: What's the most challenging part of the writing process for you? 

Joan Edwards: The most challenging part of the writing process for me has been writing the pitch, the short summary of a story. I spent the last four years researching “pitch” in order to improve my writing and help others, too. The pitch is tricky. It has to have the plot and the emotional element that pulls readers, editors, and agents to your story. I discovered that if I write the pitch for the story first (even before I write the first draft), that I almost guarantee myself that my story will have a great plot and emotional hook. The pitch can change; the characters can change, the emotional tugs can change, the bad things that happen can change. However, writing it out in the beginning gives me a path to follow: A path with wonderful characters, conflicts, dilemmas, responses, choices, and decisions. 

Petre Pan: What's the hardest disappointment you've ever experienced in your writing/publishing journey?

Joan Edwards: The hardest disappointment I ever experienced in my writing/publishing journey was submitting Flip Flap Floodle to many publishers and receiving the “No” response. It was a story I made up when I was a little girl 5 years old. I told it to everyone in my family. I told it to neighbors. I told it when I was babysitting. I told it when I became a teacher. People remembered the story and the happy little duck’s song even as many as 30 years later. It was a double whammy when publishers said they wouldn’t consider illustrations by a person who was not a professional artist.

When I retired from teaching in 1998, I spent full-time emphasis on it. I made promise to myself. “I will submit to publishers for five years. If after five years, I do not receive a “Yes.” I will self-publish the book. I repeatedly submitted my manuscript for five years. I continuously received a “No” from each.

Five years later, I followed through with my plans for self-publishing Flip Flap Floodle. I also enhanced my illustrations using Corel’s Painter software. I chose BookSurge for my publisher.
Amazon bought BookSurge and transferred printing of their books to CreateSpace. Luckily for me, color was introduced by the year 2004 when I self-published it.

Today, Flip Flap Floodle is available as a paperback and as an ebook for both Kindle and Nook.
Flip delights the hearts of children and adults everywhere. Below are links on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Flip-Flap-Floodle-Joan-Edwards/dp/1594572852/
Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/flip-flap-floodle?r=1

I continued with my dream which was to have a book published by a traditional publisher. 4RV Publishing  will release Joan’s Elder Care Guide in June, 2015.

Now my dream is to be a New York Best-Selling author.

Petre Pan: What's the greatest achievement/happiest high you've reached on your writing journey?

Joan Edwards: My greatest achievement/happiest high I’ve reached on my writing journey is the fact that 4RV Publishing said, “Yes,” when I pitched it during the 2010 Muse Conference. And that In 2011, Vivian Zabel, President sent me a contract to publish “Joan’s Elder Care Guide” with practical advice that empowers both the elder and the caregiver that I learned from taking care of my mother for 14 years. I sang and danced all around the house. A smile still lingers on my face and in my heart. It was a wonderful moment. When the book actually comes out, you’ll be able to hear me on Broadway.

Petre Pan: What do you do outside of writing?

Joan Edwards: Outside of writing,
    Go to church.
    Pick up one of my grandchildren from school each week to have an adventure together
    Spend time with my family
    Spend time with my friends.
    Shop.
    Go to movies.
    Watch football games and westerns with my husband
    Travel to the beach or the mountains in neighboring states
    Travel to New York, Colorado, Ohio, Nevada, Oregon, or Washington to visit with family and friends or to explore on my own.

Petre Pan: What's the best writing advice you've received (that you remember)? 

Joan Edwards: The best writing advice I’ve received was to study the greats and to keep writing. Another was to “Write what you like to read” which I turn around and say “Read what you like to write.”

Petre Pan: Finally, I noticed from your website that you're a woman of faith, or, as I like to say, a God-follower. How has that impacted your writing journey?

Joan Edwards:  In 1980’s my first writing on the web was an email from Hemby Bridge School in Indian Trail, NC sent to California. I received an answer within minutes. I was hooked. It was truly fascinating.
In 2001 I noticed that our church, St. John Neumann had a website. My dream at that time was to make a difference to children. I wanted to reach the child that might not get to church. One that might be sick or no one to take them there. I thought they would be happy to do an interactive wordsearch or crossword puzzle using the words of the Gospel read for that particular Sunday. I taught Children’s Liturgy and explained the Gospel to the children at our church. I thought that perhaps they would like a devotional online that explained the Gospel in words they understood.
I asked our pastor, Father Thomas Meehan if I could put devotionals and puzzles on the church website. He said, “Yes. Send them to John Silvestri.” I kept sending the puzzles and devotionals so quickly that John got overwhelmed. Another thing that totally surprised me and helped me realize I was doing what God wanted me to do was that in 6 months, I had 2,000 readers of the puzzles and devotionals. Teachers wrote me asking me to do them ahead of time.
That’s when I decided I needed a website of my own. Since I enjoyed learning about how to do things, I took an online course on how to set up your own website. I created my own website in July, 2002. Another surprise, I had 2,000 more readers on my website before 6 months was up. Almost unbelievable for me, but the statistics told me it was true. I was very thankful to God. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. It looked like I was doing that with the help of the religious education teachers of many faiths, not just Catholics, and not only in America, but in Scotland, Australia, the Philippines, too.
As of October 19, 2012
    My website, www.joanyedwards.com lists more than 55,200 visitors since July, 2002.
    My Never Give Up Blog, www.joanyedwards.wordpress.com lists 33,836 views since October 9, 2009.
If you combine them, that’s 89,036 visitors/views in ten years. Almost 9,000 views a year. That is one reason that I keep on writing. People keep on reading and responding to my work. The interaction hooks me. Blogging brings me even more interaction. I love it.
Just like a character in a story, my goal has changed from making a difference in the lives of children to making a difference in the lives of everyone I meet in person or online...both children and adults.
Like Flip Flap Floodle, my personal mantra is Never Give Up. At one time in my adult life, I did want to give up. However, God helped me through that time. He sent the right people to help me look at things differently. I want to encourage others in their journeys. I want to deter them from giving up. I want to help them reach their dreams. In doing this, I feel I will reach my goals and reach my dreams. I am enjoying the journey. I plan to get there. God is showing me how.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Author Interview with Nathaniel Lee

 Short-story author Nathaniel Lee is a professional magazine editor and a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America with over 18 publishing credits. I had the honor of reading some of his tales back when he was a member of critters.org, and let me tell you, you're in for a treat if you've never read his work. Check out his short-short fiction here at Mirrorshards (buy the collection here), and see his most recent dragon tale at Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show!

Petre Pan: First off, in my opinion you're a short story fantasy and sci fi
  KING--and you've alredy racked up a fair number of short story writing creds
  to prove it. What's the key? In other words, what do you write, and why does
  it succeed? Share a few tips with us.

  Nathaniel Lee:

I think you have me confused with Tim Pratt.  :-D

What I write is basically whatever interests me.  Generally I get
either a striking image or brief scene, more rarely a really
interesting character who needs a plot, and rarest of all a premise
without plot or character to go in it (which I find most difficult to
flesh out into a proper story.)  The stories generally crystallize out
from there.  Genre-wise, I'm probably closest to magical realism, if
I'm allowed to pick snooty pretentious genres.

As to why something succeeds, I have no idea.  No, really.  I have
several stories that I think are the cat's pajamas, and a couple of
them are literally running out of places to even be submitted.  Other
times, I've sent in a submission more to get it out of my hair for a
while than out of any real thought that it would succeed and then been
stunned by an acceptance note (or at least a personal note from the
editor where I'd previously gotten only forms.)

I guess that's really the only "tip" I have that I feel is worth a
darn to anyone other than me: you gotta keep trucking.  Butt in chair,
words on screen, stories on submission.  If you don't have your
stories in someone's slushpile, then your chances of getting published
are zero.  Can't get worse than that, so might as well ship 'em out
the door, ne?

Petre Pan: Here's a curveball. What is the most important sound in the
 world--if you had to sum up the entire world in one sound, what would that
 sound be?

 Nathaniel Lee:

Flussssshhhhhh...ding!  Wobbity-wobbity-

 Petre Pan: What sound would describe your writing style?

 Nathaniel Lee:

A simmering saucepan.

 Petre Pan: What word do you overuse when you write?

Nathaniel Lee:

"A bit."  Also "rather."  I blame an overdose of Monty Python in my
formative years.

 Petre Pan: What's the most challenging part of the writing process for you?

  Nathaniel Lee:

Oh, god, the editing.  I hate hate hate reading my own work.  I have
stories that are months old because I have to retype them to get a
digital copy and I can't bring myself to do it.

Luckily, I tend to produce pretty polished first drafts, so I don't
usually have much heavy editing to get done.  (Honestly, if I have a
story that needs major structural revisions, I tend to just toss it in
the 'graveyard' folder and start over from scratch in a year or so;
that one clearly wasn't ready yet.)

Petre Pan: What's the hardest disappointment you've ever experienced in your
  writing/publishing journey?

 Nathaniel Lee:

"Weird Tales."  I looooved the 'zine under Mz. Vandermeer.  I was
willing to give it a shot even under the new management, but then that
whole kerfuffle with "Revealing Eden: Save the Pearls" happened (where
Marvin Kaye posted a glowing review and a chapter excerpt of that
heinous little book and followed up by claiming that everyone who
thought it was kind of really appallingly racist were all just
knee-jerk haters who didn't understand subtlety.  And then when the
Internet went "WTF?" he tried to fix it by deleting the original
editorial and culling comments and whatnot.)  I and a lot of other
writers I know withdrew submissions on the grounds that that was A)
super tasteless and B) showed really poor business/publicity sense.
He never did post his promised follow-up article talking about the
whole mess, either.

The worst part was that the submission I withdrew had been accepted
and was awaiting a contract.  :-(  :-(  :-(

Yeah, I know.  I did it to myself.  Quit whining.  But man, that still
upsets me.

  Petre Pan: What's the greatest achievement/happiest high you've reached on
  your writing journey?

  Nathaniel Lee:

Probably that first sale of "Concrete" after 18 months of nothing.
I'd started to think about just quitting entirely.

I will also note:
- Getting my third professional sale (Thanks, Daily Science Fiction!)
and thus becoming SFWA eligible.
- Getting into IGMS, which is probably the biggest-name magazine I've
been in to date
- Alasdair Stuart describing me as having "a sun for a brain."  Al
rocks.  Pseudopod 4 Life!  (I've sold three stories there so far, and
they're one of my favorite podcasts, bar none.)

  Petre Pan: What do you do outside of writing?

  Nathaniel Lee:

I am an enormous nerd.  Not in the watered-down sense of the word
where everyone who enjoyed Lord of the Rings or who plays Call of Duty
is now a "nerd."  I got beaten up, I was a complete weirdo as a kid;
I've got my street cred.  I do roleplaying games.  I do *indie*
roleplaying games, not just D&D (though I can tell D&D war stories for
hours, too).  I make a pilgrimage to GenCon.  I've got a closet full
of probably fifty or sixty board games.  (No, not Monopoly.)  My wife
and I spent thousands of dollar on "The Emissary" from Geek Chic, a
dining room table with fold-out drawers for character sheets and dice
and a six-inch recessed acrylic playing surface under the removable
leaves.  In fact, even as I type this we have a game of Stronghold set
up around turn five, waiting for us to have a chance to finish it.

So yeah.  Lots of gaming in the pencil-and-paper and board sense.  And
reading; I still go through two to four books per week (in addition to
my slushpile load.)  I've also got an 8-month-old son who has pretty
much expanded to consume all available free time.

  Petre Pan: What's the best writing advice you've received (that you

  Nathaniel Lee:

I am a giant Roger Zelazny fanboy.  In "Unicorn Variations," he
published a brief little essay called "The Parts That Are Only
Glimpsed: Three Reflexes."  What he suggests in there boils down to
leaving things unstated and subtly implying a larger world by giving
minor characters bits of depth and creating unspoken histories for
your protagonists.  I'm butchering it by summarizing; it's a great
essay, and I strongly endorse both it and Roger Zelazny in general.

Petre: Thanks so much Nathaniel! It's great hearing what goes on behind the scenes. I have to debate you on one point--I always saw CoD as a frat boy game, not a nerd game. But I definitely see you have my little Munchkin Fu, Fluxx, and Settlers of Catan thing beat with your Stronghold! 
And that's a wrap, folks! You might also check out Nathaniel's stories here at Escape Pod and Drabblecast.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pitch Live! Issue 339

Title: Issue 339
Genre: YA 
Word count: 75,000

A popular comic book character lands a bullet in his author's chest.

The comic book industry drags teen superhero Skye through every plot twist imaginable. Skye's taken on alien invasions, his true love died as a zombie-plant-monster, and a crime ring princess can't decide whether to kiss or kill him. Every time tragedy strikes, Skye claws past the rubble, drags himself to his feet, and faces the next day with hope and courage.

Then the author writes Issue #339. Skye's best friend kills his parents--and then kills Skye. Through some ridiculous inter-dimensional physics, the weapon meant to disintegrate Skye lands him in his author's universe, where a kindly inner-city cop takes him in. Skye becomes best friends with the cop's son Jace, a quiet comic book aficionado, but Jace struggles against Skye's nightmares, mood swings, and extreme reactions to comics--it's rough trying to help a roommate with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Skye breaks. He can't handle watching his friends suffer anymore. He shoots his author.

While the cop investigates the author's mysterious murder, Jace must uncover his familiar-looking houseguest's real identity, and when the publishing company hires a new writer, Skye must decide whether one more murder will save his world, or damn his soul.

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Totally Awesome Dinosaurs"--my new children's book, and the problems with Made It Moments

 Totally Awesome Dinosaurs 

This is my children's book/easy reader that just came out for the iPad. Cheesy title aside (publisher's idea, not mine), kids will like this; it's easy to read, and the illustrator is pretty dang fabulous, as you can see. It's drowning in awesome dino-facts. You can download the free trial through iTunes!

I also got a partial request during the http://themuseonlinewritersconference.com on my story about the superhero who shoots his author. (Super conference--do check it out) This is killing me; it's a request from a really, really well-established agent who I'd never have the guts to cold-query. I also got a full over at Brenda Lee Drake's for a novella about a man whose heart-beat may kill him. I'm floored, and I should be. But I'm also feeling really, really, REALLY mixed. Frustrated, even.

Why? Because I'm not there yet. No matter how close I get with my novel--even if I drown in partials and fulls--I cannot say "yes" when my coworkers ask, "Are you published?" "Can I get your book in bookstores?" No, you can't. Maybe in a year or two. Or ten.

That's why I'd actually forgotten about this kid's book. I wrote it months ago, sold all the rights to a non-traditional publisher for next to nothing, deposited the check, and moved on. I found the listing because someone googled me (looking for my wedding website!) and noticed that I'm 'an author.' "I'm an author?" I feel like I have to get a novel published before I'm an author. Otherwise I'm just a freelancer, a writer, and a ghost-blogger. Right? 

Right, but part of me demands that I pause my trek up the mountainside and gaze with gratefulness at the winding road behind me. "Let me feel this happiness! It's okay, and worth the disappointment later!" A few years ago I could have sent out a hundred queries and never gotten a single reply--and that happens to a lot of people. Now here I am. Yet there's an old fable where the rabbit and the frog compete to jump across a ditch, and the rabbit stumbles, tumbling right next to the starting edge, and the frog lands one foot on the other side--but crashes in the ditch, too. They ask who won: the fox, judging the competition, says,"Both in the ditch. Can't say which."

In C.S. Lewis' Screwtape letters the devil hopes to convince his victim that, "he's arrived." I'm not arrived. I know that. I'm struggling a bit trying to manage my feelings--I don't want my hopes up too high, because I'll need to keep pushing if I crash and burn. I'm a woman in labor, and I can't just stop half-way. I also don't want to ignore where I've come from--"I'm a failure because I'm not there yet." That would kill me. I'm a child who needs happy thoughts to fly.

So I don't think about it too much. How do you deal with your 'made-it moments'? Those times when you've hit a major milestone, but have so far to go, does your happiness overwhelm you? Does the mountain ahead make the milestone joyless? How do you find the balance? Do you need to? I'm okay with these highs and lows, but sometimes they ride me into the pavement. Share your suffering and joys with me!