Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Is This The Future Bookstore?

Imagine, if you will, a bookstore without shelves of books. Rather than a sprawling layout of assorted books, think sofas and chairs and laptops. When you find a book you want, you walk to the counter, order it, and within minutes, it is printed, bound, and handed to you.

It's happening now. And to see the process, watch this video:




The Northshire Bookstore, in quaint Manchester Center, Vermont, is using the Espresso Book Machine. You can read more about it here.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Connections

Years ago when I was a struggling--and starving--writer, I agonized about paying the dues for a national writing organization. At that time, it came down to a choice between paying the dues or buying groceries for my five children. Which would you choose? Of course I forked over the dues--after squirreling away nickels and pennies for a year and setting aside my birthday money. And I've never regretted the decision. It set me on the course to being a professional, and well-paid, writer.

This week, when I was contacted to write material for a high-profile, national TV series, that sacrifice paid off big time. I traced a line back from this job opportunity to a writing assignment 3 years ago with a major textbook company, which came about from contacts at a CA book publisher who was shutting down, which came from a referral by a magazine editor, who knew and had published work from one of my critique group members--a friend I'd made through that writing organization more than 10 years ago. Without that friend, I'd never have found my first paying writing gig. Without that friend, I'd never have had my first book contract. Without that friend, I never would have made this long, convoluted journey to being a paid writer.

Each one of us is interconnected, and you never know when an author you meet may hold the key to your success. And conversely, you never know when you might be that vital link in the chain for another writer. I've heard it said that you're only 6 people away from publishing success (provided you've studied your craft and worked hard). You never know who that person might be, so it pays to be generous with your time and knowledge whether the person you meet is a newbie or an experienced writer. Help others as much as you can. Someday they may help you in return.

As a I look back along my writing path, I see many friends and critique partners who contributed to making me the writer I am today. I could have never done it without their support. And, though I still have a long way to go and much to learn, these cheerleaders, mentors, and supporters have moved me much farther along that path than I ever could have gone on my own. I only hope that I, in turn, aided them in their journey. So many thanks to all of you out there for what you've contributed to my life. You know who you are...

And so, I offer you all a networking opportunity. Here's a chance to meet one of my many groups of colleagues, friends, and fellow writers:

Several of The Wild Rose Press authors have banded together to offer a blog bouquet today. Twenty authors are each offering a different prize for stopping by and commenting on their blogs. Who knows what possible connection might open up for you by meeting these authors! I wish you all the wonderful friendships and possibilities that meeting other writers can afford. Good luck!!

Hope you enjoy getting to know every one of them:

www.amberleighwilliams.blogspot.com
www.authorsstudio.blogspot.com
www.bettyhanawa.blogspot.com
www.christineclemetson.blogspot.com
www.findagreatromance.blogspot.com
www.freewebs.com/lesmora
www.freewebs.com/teriwilson/apps/blog/
www.grgiall.blogspot.com
www.hywelalyn.blogspot.com
www.jennfrancesca.blogspot.com
www.joycemoore.blogspot.com
www.lianalaverentz.blogspot.com
www.LindaHopeLee.blogspot.com
www.lje1.wordpress.com
www.noveltrails.blogspot.com
www.plotsandthoughts.blogspot.com
www.tanyahanson.blogspot.com
www.tinagayle.blogspot.com
www.traveltheages.blogspot.com
www.willtravelforromance.blogspot.com

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Self-Promotion Party

Want to know what other people are writing? Want to tell other people what you're writing? Check out agent Rachelle Gardner's Friday Self-Promotion Party at
http://cba-ramblings.blogspot.com/. My Christian chick lit novel was #155 in the past 19+ hours since Rachelle posted her blog. It's a fun list to skim and a great way to read other people's elevator speeches if you happen to be working on one of your own.

Happy reading!

Follow me to the UK!

by Cate Masters

Today I'm over at fellow Eternal Press author Colin Galbraith's blog, Freedom from the Mundane. Come join the party (Colin's away all weekend! Sounds like party time to me. Don't worry, Colin, I'll clean up any mess!). Leave a comment and you might win a copy of One Soul for Sale!

Here's what You Gotta Read Reviews said about One Soul for Sale: "The writing style made me feel as though I were a part of the story instead of someone on the outside looking in. I was pulled into the story and couldn't stop until I hit the last page. The ending by the way ..... OUTSTANDING! I loved it! One Soul for Sale was filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story."

For you more traditional readers, One Soul for Sale's also available in print from Amazon.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Short story online

Just wanted to let all you Sus Writers know that my short story, "The Man Upstairs" can now be found at http://www.absentwillowreview.com. I wrote this story before the recent news item about a stranger that takes up residence inside a family's attic.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Italia I

I returned home from Italy last night after a 12-day whirl wind of travel - first to Rome, then up to the majestic Tuscan hills, then back to Rome and staying inside a convent for several days (no, I'm not Catholic - just curious.)
Before I left for Italy, I spoke with a young artist who had traveled to Italy while studying art in college. She spoke about the renewed inspiration for her art that she found in Florence, a place I ended up visiting for one day last week. I can see why she felt that way.
The Uffizi Gallery, located in the heart of that glorious yet frenetic city, could give any artist or creative person a dose or two of spark. But perhaps "spark" is too mild a term. I think I'll call it "lightning." This gallery contains the greatest overall collection of Italian paintings anywhere in the world. It offers visitors a look at art treasures from Medieval times to the Renaissance. I had read about and seen some of these works over the years in books - art by Raphael, da Vinci, Botticelli. "How did they do this?" I wondered. The detail, the sheer size of the canvases was beyond comprehension. No matter where I stood - whether far away or close to a painting - the passion for what these artists did was evident in every brush stroke.
As I strolled from room to room, the beauty of it all overwhelmed me. It was just too much. At one point, as I walked down one of the long hallways of the Uffizi, I stepped aside and wept. And, yes, just like that young art student, I became inspired.

New urban fantasy to be released July 7

by Cate Masters

Freya's Bower will release The Lure of the Vine on July 7!

While I researched Greek mythology for The Duende and the Muse, I came across some interesting info about Dionysus, God of the Vine - and his followers, the Maenads. Dionysus was madly in love with his mortal wife, Ariadne. One of the few gods to remain faithful to any woman, he mourned her for eternity.
In ancient times, Dionysus became a master marketer to push his product: wine. He enticed people to drink by any means, and could be either friend or foe to humans. Sometimes both.
The Maenads worshipped Dionysus, but also lived in complete freedom. They slept beneath the stars, sang and danced in the forests. And, oh yeah, ripped to shreds animals or humans they happened upon, and feasted on their flesh.
As an immortal, Dionysus would, theoretically, still be in existence today. Still promoting his product. And still yearning for Ariadne. Or someone very like her...

To read an excerpt, visit my blog.

Cate Masters’ novellas, short stories and flash fiction have appeared in various web zines and epress sites. Visit her online at www.catemasters.com, www.catemasters.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mindless Plotting

We all have moments when a scene isn't working or the next plot twist isn't moving the story like we wanted it to. So we push away from the keyboard and think. I for one can't do that while sitting in my computer chair staring at the blinking cursor on the screen. I turn to other things.
I have a few hobbies that lend themselves to letting my imagination run wildly about while still accomplishing something. Crocheting is a favorite. I can count, change colors, do multiple stitches without giving it one bit of my conscious attention. Jigsaw puzzles are probably my favorite mindless activity. I have a like-minded sister who lives out of state. For over twenty years we buy each other a jigsaw puzzle for our birthdays. We try to stump each other with an impossible puzzle. We're both very good and haven't managed to defeat each other yet. Even while doing the most difficult, challenging puzzle, I can plan the next scene, the next dialogue and still complete that lovely puzzle.
Mowing the grass at our house takes at least one and a half hours. Riding the lawn tractor is truely a time given to thought. Driving a car is a similar time for reflection but I have to take more care. Yes, last night I drove right past my daughter's hockey field while thinking of the dire situation my protagonists were involved in.
I wonder how other writers let their imagination free. What do they do when they're just stuck? Not with writer's block, but with a simple plot point.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's in Print Early!

Summer Lovin' is now available for purchase in print at Barnes & Noble and Amazon (no cover picture there yet, unfortunately).

It wasn't supposed to be out until July 10, so I'm excited! My author copies are winging their way to me now. To celebrate, I'm posting an excerpt and will give away a copy of the e-book to one lucky person who comments either here or at my blog.

Do you remember your first love? Your first kiss? Drop by and tell us about it.

BLURB:


SUMMER LOVIN’ is a collection of love stories by authors Dara Edmondson, Laurie J. Edwards, Mona Ingram, Kimberlee R. Mendoza, Sydney Shay, and June Sproat about life on a ranch, summer jobs, sandcastle competitions, the tragedy of a flood, and falling in love with a rock star.

My story in the anthology is “Summer Storms”: Sixteen-year-old Paige nearly drowns as she rescues a Pomeranian trapped in floodwaters that sweep through her town. Chase, the hottie who saves her, wants to help her and her mother, but Paige won’t accept charity. And can she risk him unmasking the family secret she’s kept hidden?


EXCERPT (Paige and her mother try to escape the flood sweeping through town. Waves have just smashed the branches of an uprooted tree through their window):


Picking her way over the broken glass, Paige lunged for the tree. Icy water soaked her sneakers and jeans. The suitcase banged against the trunk and almost slid from her grasp. Her fingers raked down the rough bark, tearing her palms. The tree bobbed up and down as water assaulted it.

Paige climbed on and wrapped one arm around an upright branch. Staying seated was like riding a bucking bronco. She wedged the suitcase between two branches and then leaned forward to extend a hand to Mama, who was scrambling for balance.

As she got Mama situated, another wave rocked the tree. The suitcase slid. Before Paige could grab it, it plunged into the water below. What had they lost? Her mind was a blur. But Mama was safe. That was the important thing.

She wrested the other suitcase from Mama’s grip and slid the handle over an upright tree branch. Mama clung to another branch as the tree shuddered. As long as the tree didn’t roll, they could float to safety. She hoped.

Wood cracked and splintered. Only a bit more and the branch would break free. Then they’d be at the mercy of the river.

A tiny yip caused Paige to turn. A Pomeranian paddled furiously in the sludge between their house and the one next door. Its fur slicked tight to its head, the dog panted as it struggled to keep its head above water. The tree had dammed the floodwaters between the buildings, but once the dog reached the rushing water, it would be doomed.

Paige clutched the branch with one hand and leaned back until her muscles screamed in agony. The dog struggled closer, but she couldn’t reach it. She gripped the trunk between her legs and let go of the branch. Still, the gap was too great.

Mama screamed, “No, Paige, no!”

But Paige ignored her. She inched backward and reached for the dog. With a great rending sound, the branch holding the tree in place tore free of its mooring. And with a sucking sound, the tree shot into the raging current.



Want to find out what happens next? Pick up a copy of Summer Lovin’. “Summer Storms” is only one of six stories in the anthology. All the stories in the anthology are different, so I’m sure you’ll find one you just love.




Friday, June 19, 2009

Hi Everyone: Sorry I've been absent but I've been on the road a lot.
I followed with interest the discussion on the covers. My own thought is that each author should be responsible for what they put on the site.
It continues to be busy. I'll be at the Barnes and Noble in Lancaster from noon to 2 pm tomorrow and then on to the Barnes and Noble in Philadelphia tomorrow night from 7 - 9 pm.
George: I hope to see you in Lancaster. Anyone else?
The month of July I'll be doing a number of signing at the Jersey shore. July 3rd in Avalon, July 16th near Atlantic City, July 18th in Sea Isle City, then July 30th in Ocean City.
I'll be at Thrillerfest in New York from July 8 - 11.
So, if I.m AWOL, it's not because I'm not following what you're talking about.
I love the discussion and am impressed with all of the work ongoing.
Hope to see some of you at the Camp Hill Barnes and Noble next Wednesday.
Don

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law

Over a year ago, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell signed the Right-to-Know bill into law. On January 1, 2009, all levels of Pennsylvania government must now make its records open to the public. The new law includes a presumption that records are open. For the first time in Pennsylvania’s history, a citizen no longer must prove that a record is public and that it should be released. Now, a Pennsylvania government agency must presume that its records are public and make them available for inspection or copying. If the government agency chooses to withhold a record, the agency has the burden to prove – with legal citation – why that record should not be available to the public. Of course, some records are not open, such as criminal investigation reports or complete personnel records.

"The Mission of the Office of Open Records is to enforce the state’s Right-to-Know law and to serve as a resource for citizens, public officials and members of the media in obtaining public records of their government."

The new law is not just for state government, but also for county, and municipal agencies. Even volunteer fire companies must comply.

Getting information from local government officials has sometimes been difficult, if not impossible, in the past. As a working correspondent for a newspaper, some local officials would do everything they could to prevent the flow of public information. Some things I remember fighting to get included the salaries of school administrators. This is clearly public information: the salaries are paid by taxpayers, and they certainly have a right to know what the salary is that they are paying. Hopefully, the new Right to Know law will make this kind of information more readily available here in Pennsylvania.

The law established the Open Records office. Their Web site is http://openrecords.state.pa.us/.

-- George Sheldon, www.georgesheldon.com

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Judging Time

I have never been a very good judge of how long it actually takes to do something. Perhaps I'm too much of an optimist, or not enough of a realist, but I rarely expect things to take as long as they do.

I have particular difficulty when it comes to my writing projects. Chapters always take longer to write than I think they will, outlines never seem to come together neatly and revisions - well, they take on a life of their own.

Actually, when it comes to revisions, I blame my writer friends, whose critiques are so thorough and so dead on that I can't just ignore them. I have to tackle the changes head on, and one change leads to another...and another...and before I know it, I've exceeded my allotted time. Again.

Such was my week last week. By Saturday, I was still working on polishing an outline and sample chapter that I had expected to launch into cyberspace by the middle of the week. And so I started out on Saturday by checking my e-mail, writing a blog... exercises in procrastination disguised as doing something that needed to be done, because looking at those pages again, however necessary, seemed overwhelming. The pages had already taken so much longer than I'd expected that I hesitated to approach them again, fearful of the time they'd devour.

As it turns out, they did devour a substantial chunk of time...and then they were finished. Yesterday, I sent them to my agent hoping that first she, and then an editor or two will be willing to spend their time on them.

After the fact, I am always glad I spent the time. I just wish I knew how much time to allot in the first place.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Booksignings and Independent Sellers

Last year I arranged a booksigning at an independent bookseller a good distance from my home. There aren't many independents left in my part of the world. Those that are about are struggling to compete with the big chain stores. For someone like me, those hard-fighting independents are my best bet for getting a booksigning. Because my small ebook publisher doesn't take returns, the big stores won't order my books.
The small bookstore where I had my signing ordered my books and I agreed to take extras off his hands if we didn't sell many. Well, we didn't. The number sold was slightly more than zero, but it certainly didn't pay for my gas. He admitted his store did the majority of its business selling children's books and he sold few romances. I wish I had know before I prepared a prize basket and a brief talk on writing romance. But I can't fault him.
I fear the independent bookseller will go the way of the small hardware stores with their wonderful smells and hard word floors. The small bookstore's peaceful quiet with no piped in music will drift quietly into the night. They don't have aisles of the latest CDs and DVDs or rows of magazines and they can't stalk the midlist books while still having room for the latest bestsellers.
If there is an independent bookseller near you, stop in and support them if you can. They may not have a gourmet coffee shop with overpriced deserts and college students with their laptops out, but they will have a friendly educated staff and owner grateful for your patronage. Every person who works in those little stores will love books as much as we do. Support your independents.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Here Comes Scribd

There is an interesting little news story about Scribd in the Courant. Scribd is new online store that offers online texts. While the entire article is worth reading, this paragraph caught my eye:

Simon & Schuster is the first big New York publisher to makes its titles available on Scribd, which started its store last month. Publishers have complained of numerous pirated texts showing up on Scribd, but officials for both Scribd and Simon & Schuster say that Scribd has worked hard to improve its anti-piracy measures and that having the authorized editions in its database will make it easier to track illegal versions.

I think this is a major story, especially for writers. When a large publisher - one of the THE largest - with authors like Stephen King -embrace the technology, things are going to change in the publishing industry.

The Digital Rights Management (DRM) is crucial. No author, writer, or publisher is going to agree to any system where the DRM does not protect the copyrighted word. Anyone could write a manuscript, claim copyright, create a PDF file, and place the document for sale on a Web site. However, such a business model would allow one sale, and the rapid distribution and duplication - although illegal - of the document. But now that the DRM appears to be in place, and as major publishers jump on board, watch this new form of distribution of a writer's work flourish.

This is just the start of something grand.

-- George Sheldon, http://www.georgesheldon.com/

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Italia

I'm leaving tomorrow for Italy, and in the throes of washing clothes, packing, and making sure our Westie doesn't notice the suitcases, I think about the daily writing responsibilities I'll leave behind. The deadlines, the calls to editors, the interviews will have to wait until my return. But I did one thing I haven't done in years. I purchased a journal. I promised myself I would record every sight, every thought, every character I meet along the piazzas and alleys of the ancient towns we'll be visiting.

I always tell my workshop students the value of keeping a journal. It's not only semi-therapy, but it keeps you writing, improves your skills, and gives you fodder for stories. Well, "Do as I say, not as I do." But this time I'm taking my own advice. When you immerse yourself in your surroundings, your stories become richer and more vibrant. The characters jump off the page because you've met them in another form, up close, with lines on their faces and smiles on their lips.

I looked at my journal's cover last night, then flipped through the empty lined sheets. "Can't wait to fill you up," I whispered. I'm going to keep that promise.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

"THE YELLOW STONE"


Now available from www.eternalpress.ca   

"The Yellow Stone"

Set in the American West, it is a soft SF tale about a woman's quest to find her people centuries after Yellowstone National Park exploded.  



videohttp://www.eternalpress.ca/theyellowstone.htm
visit authors website   http://www.tinacrone.com/

One Soul for Sale releases today!

by Cate Masters
The long awaited day has arrived! Eternal Press releases One Soul for Sale today! Woo hoo!



Eternal Press is having an all-day launch party - stop over and help us celebrate! Mine is one of seven titles out today. You just might win a prize.

Cate Masters’ novellas, short stories and flash fiction have appeared in various web zines and epress sites. Visit her online at www.catemasters.com, www.catemasters.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Work or Work?

There have been a few posts here lately about time management and the challenges of dual careers. I thought I would take the opportunity to weigh in on my own frustrations.
Like so many writers, I have to keep that full time job to pay the bills. It's not only the money, it's the health benefits that must be considered. I have children so that means large expensives in health care, education and FOOD. So I fit my writing in around working and all the responsibilities that go with being a parent.
I'm luckier than some writers in that my 'day job' is in education. I'm assured of having every weekend off and holidays. After Monday, I'll have the summer months off except for a few days of inservice training. (Must schools switch their grading systems every few years?) Looking at all these days off, one would think I get a lot of writing done in the summer months, but I don't.
It's not having the children at home. They're all teenagers or older, but I wish I could blame it on them. Yes, I'll spend many evenings going to their baseball and softball games. I'll work out with my daughter on her summer conditioning for field hockey, but I do all that during the school year. It's the daytime hours that escape me.
I spent this morning mowing the grass after days of rain. The weeds look like some kind of alien flora invasion into my flowerbeds. I have three stacks of branches and trimmings I need to send through the chipper.... You get the idea. I have plans for stripping wall paper and painting inside for these weeks of 'leisure.'
Even with all that, why do I get less writing done in the summer than during the months I'm teaching? I'm not sure, but I think it's because I spend the days under the illusion that I have so much free time, I can write 'later' after I finish this one more flower bed, clean this one more room or try this one new recipe. At the end of the day, I'm tired, feel fulfilled by my accomplishments and just know I'll have more time to write tomorrow. After all, I do have over two months off.
What about you? Is there a time of year when your writing output is the best? Is there a time when it's the least? And does it make sense that it should be that way?

Friday, June 5, 2009

A New Printer vs. a Replacement Cartridge

My color laser printer needed a new cartridge. It had a hissy fit, refusing to print until I jammed in a new magenta cartridge. So I went to the store, ready to pay $92 for the replacement cartridge.

I decided to look at the new printers. I spotted a combo Lexmark – it’s a printer, copier, fax, scanner, photo printer. It is also wireless, connecting onto my wireless network through the router. And it was only $79. I can position the printer anywhere in my office. It does not need to be tethered to a computer. It stands alone anywhere. And I can print from my laptop, even if I am in the backyard writing and working, and need to print a page or two.

I am no fool. I bought the new printer. It even came with OCR software that really works! I can’t believe. I tested it with five pages of a manuscript. It automatically feeds the pages, and it looks like 100% recognition. The final document ended up in a new Word document, ready for me to work on it.

And it prints envelopes! I hate a printer that doesn’t print an envelope.

I am probably going to buy, sooner or later, a small black and white laser. For manuscripts and proofing, it seems to make sense to me to print quick and cheap copies of pages. I still prefer to edit on paper. I will probably never change. It’s a matter of me being an old dog not willing to change to do a new trick. But then again, I may not. I might just use this new printer exclusively. It really does have a lot of neat options! I need to get some photo paper and try printing out a couple pictures. If that works as well as I suspect, I may be spending too much time printing photos rather than writing.

I am amazed at the quality of this inkjet printer that was cheaper to buy than an ink cartridge. I just can’t believe what $79 buys these days.

-- George Sheldon, www.georgesheldon.com

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wild Rose Press to select Sony eReader winner soon!

by Cate Masters
Time's running out!
On Tuesday, June 9, some lucky person will win a Sony eReader. But first, s/he must buy an ebook from The Wild Rose Press by one of the participating authors (hopefully me!) Details are here.
Choose from either Seventh Heaven or The Duende and the Muse - each only $2.00. Such a small cost for a great reward.
Both stories have received excellent reviews:
Seventh Heaven
WDRF's "Memorable Good" review concluded: This is a read that will leave you on the edge of your seat. The deep and powerful setting of this story had me wiping away tears while cheering James on. Cate has a great story on her hands with this.
LASR's 4-book review concluded: Cate Masters is a gifted writer who wrote this book with talent and marvelous imagery. I could almost see, taste, hear and touch what was occurring in "Seventh Heaven." If you are looking for a book with a wonderful plot that is very well written as well as being entertaining, "Seventh Heaven" is the book for you. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Masters' work.
The Duende and the Muse
Author Hywela Lyn's 5-star review: This little gem is an absolute delight. It's quite unusual in that it's a first person, present tense narrative, and this gives it an wonderful immediacy. I felt I was right there with Melinda, sharing her frustration that her student doesn't seem to hear her, her anxiety that if she doesn't succeed with him she might lose her muse status – and the heat she feels when a certain duende is near her. Cate Masters puts words together in a way that is almost poetic, and brings the magic of her world to life. It's a delightful, quick and fun read and I can thoroughly recommend it.
Cate Masters’ novellas, short stories and flash fiction have appeared in various web zines and epress sites. Visit her online at www.catemasters.com, www.catemasters.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook