Weeping of the Willow Update: Resetting the Counter Back to 1

Well, I can’t put it off any longer.

The main reason I went to Viable Paradise was to get help for my work-in-process, The Weeping of the Willows. I had reached a point where I was in revision hell, and I needed clear eyes to get myself out of it.

What I learned there was that 1) everyone goes through this, 2) I got a good complex story, and 3) I need to CUT THINGS DOWN. Right now, I have so much happening and so many characters, trying to juggle it all wore me down.

I’ve looked over my outline and cut out some stuff. Some storylines can wait until the next book. I’ve combined some characters into the main characters, making the latter stronger. And ::deep breath:: I’m starting all over again.

So you see the Willow in progress counter to the right? It’s back to zero.

That was probably the most painful part of this whole process.

But…in theory…this revision would go faster. I no longer have 60 chapters to wade through. It’s been streamlined to 45 chapters. We’ll see how this works.

Last night, I edited the first page. Only a kazillion more to go. It’s a start.

Story Calendar Price Drop! (or…ohai all you cracked.com visitors!)

So last night, I was checking the blog stats for the Cafe, and I was startled to see that blog hits over my normal amount. Turns out, Cracked.com has linked my blog post about the American Gods Gathering at the House of the Rock last year in their article “5 Halloween Parties Too Badass to be Real (that totally are)“. Our little gathering made the list at #3.

Well, dang.

I need to respond to that. And what better way to respond than to DROP THE PRICE OF MY STORY CALENDAR TO $2.99!

That’s right folks. You can get my short story/poetry collection “Into the Mist-Stained Woods: a Calendar of Tales” for the low, low price of $2.99. That’s the price of a decent app. A good cup of coffee. Portabella mushrooms on sale at your local grocery store. A danish. (Huh. This is what happens when you write a blog post before breakfast.) But it’s a good deal. And if you can’t buy, then spread the word. Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, you name it.

So click on the link above or the Paypal button in the right hand column. And enjoy!

Story Calendar is UP! Go Buy! Go Buy Now!

It’s done! My story calendar is done!

Mist Stained4 [Converted]

If you follow me on Twitter and Facebook, you know that yesterday was an absolute bear. I had the ebook ready, but getting PayPal to give me a button proved to be a nightmare. But I finally wrestled one out, and the story calendar is ready for purchase!

Click on the book cover above or if you look at the top of the screen, click on the menu item "Story Calendar Page".  Or heck, if you’re one of those people who are impatient, and you just got to have the calendar NOW NOW NOW NOW. Well, dang, click the "Buy Now" button on the sidebar to the right. I got you covered.

How much, you ask? Well, for this month, I am selling the story calendar for $10. That’s less than a dollar for each story/poem in the book. Now, the more astute among you may ask why so much when I can get an ordinary ebook for 99 cents?  Well, when I conceived the story calendar, I saw it more as a fundraising tool for my Viable Paradise trip, which will be NEXT WEEK! ::insert panicked breathing here:: So in essence, it’s me going around knocking on doors, saying, "Hey, I got a great opportunity to go to this awesome workshop. Will you buy this popcorn/chocolate/taffy apples/Girl Scout Cookies/rancid piece of beef to help fund me going?" The difference is I don’t come knocking on your door at an inconvenient time, and the story calendar will last much, much longer. (And chances are, if I show up at your door selling a rancid piece of beef, the chances of me selling that will be higher than me donning a Girl Scout uniform to sell cookies. And by the way, No.)

Ten bucks too much for you? No prob. The best way is to help me out is boost the signal. Tell your family. Tell your friends. See the buttons below this post? Stumble, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus the heck out of this page. The more people who know about this project, the more it will help me. And heck, tell them about the freebie story they can get. That’s right. I’ve made the January story free of charge. Just go to the story calendar page to check it out.

Thanks so much for sticking with me throughout this crazy ride of making my first ebook. It’s been a blast, and for those of you who encouraged me through the process, I really appreciated it. Now, if you excuse me, I’m going to take a well-earned nap. Then I got some packing to do. I hear if you don’t like what they serve for dinner, you have to forage in the wilds of Martha’s Vineyard with nothing but a butterknife.

Story Calendar Status Update: Almost Ready!

This is just a quick update to let you guys know where the story calendar stands. We’re almost ready to go live, folks!

The stories have been written, revised, and sent to beta readers. This week, I’ll do a final revision, then put them into ebook format. I’m also waiting on cover art, so once that’s completed, all I have to do is stick it in and voila! It’ll be ready. So stay tuned!

Project Calendar Update: Fundraising (sadly, it won’t involve Kickstarter)

A couple of weeks ago, I made the announcement that I will be putting together a Story Calendar ebook to raise funds towards my trip to Viable Paradise in October. After that announcement, I went on vacation, where I came down with a nasty cold and spent most of my time sleeping, eating, occasionally swimming, and reading. Lots and lots of reading.

Mainly, I was trying to figure out how exactly I was going to pull this off.

A lot of writers friends suggested Kickstarter, so I took a look into it. Kickstarter appears to be a great place if you want to raise funds for a project. You put in a proposal, get it approved, and you get your own page where you promote your project. Many successful ones offer varying levels of incentives to donate: if you donate 5 bucks, for instance, you get an ebook, but if you donate 20 bucks, you get an ebook plus a printed copy of the book, and so on. Many authors have put book projects up on Kickstarter and gotten their projects funded–some going above and beyond their original goal. (btw, if you want to learn more about Kickstarter, I suggest listening to Mur Lafferty’s I Should Be Writing Show #212, in which she talks about her Kickstarter experience.)

I studied the projects and I thought, yeah, I can see myself doing this. The key thing is incentives. How can I pull in people through incentives. You can’t just have an ebook. You need to get their attention, plus, you have to come up with incentives that people want.

So I started brainstorming. The successful projects had print copies as well as ebooks, so I added that. Then I thought, no, wait, this is a story calendar, right? What if I got actual calendars? First level, ebook, second level, a calendar, third level, a print book, and hey, let’s put my calligraphy skills to work and make the fourth level a handwritten copy of any poem or story set in the donor’s birthmonth…

I brainstormed, and I planned and I made notes. And then I did research into how much all this would cost.

Whoa.

I had figured I would need to raise about $1000 for my VP costs. To do this project on Kickstarter, I would have to factor in cost of calendars, print copies, paper for calligraphy, calligraphy ink (because I’m all out). Shipping for all that stuff here. Envelopes. Postage for mailing all that stuff out. Plus, factoring in Kickstarter and Amazon fees, and, that could easily kick up what I need to $5000.  Plus, there’s the time to factor in to get all of this done, making a video for the Kickstarter page (everyone suggest making a video) stuffing envelopes, ordering the print copies, making sure they all get in on time, doing the calligraphy, etc, and so forth. This would take several months of my time.

All this just to raise $1000 for one week in October.

Yesterday, it all came to a head when I realized I was seriously stressing out over it and I hadn’t even started working on the ebook yet, something that I have never done before.

Looking at the ebook projects at Kickstarter, the successful ones always offered print copies as well as ebook, or at least promised print copies. So if I just sold the Story Calendar just as an ebook there, chances are, it wouldn’t do so well, and I won’t get anything, because Kickstarter won’t give you the funds if you don’t meet your goal. If, however, I put all my creative energy into just making the ebook, put it up here, at the Café, as a limited-edition ebook, and if 67 people bought it at $15 each, I would reach my goal. That’s it. All I need to do is get the word out through Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus. 67 People.

So, as much as I hate to say it, I don’t think I’ll be using Kickstarter. Not this time, anyway. At this stage, I just don’t think I’m ready, nor do I feel I’ll have a worthy enough project to sell. The story calendar idea is great, but I have yet to figure out how to format it, and if that hinges on selling, then I’d rather put my energy into learning how to make an ebook than splitting it between an ebook, a calendar, and a print book. Baby steps first. My goal is to make it the best, awesomest story calendar you, dear reader, will ever spend $15 on.

And I’m not completely writing off Kickstarter. I’m actually pretty proud of the incentives I came up for the story calendar, and I do still want to do it. Just not now. If the ebook sells well here, then I want to try it next year, when I’m not so pressured for money and time. By then, the funds I’ll ask for will go towards making the story calendar, not fundraising for something else, and I’ll have enough experience  to do it right.

Now, if you excuse me, I need to get to working on the stories of the Story Calendar. Finally!

LaShawn’s Super Secret Funding Project Revealed: A Calendar of Tales COMING SOON!

So a couple of posts ago, I mentioned I had been accepted into Viable Paradise this October. Since then, I’ve been tossing around ideas on how exactly I would pay to get myself there. I took the first step today by increasing my hours at my day job so that I’m now full-time (temporarily), but I wanted to do something that appealed to my writer skills as well.

At this year’s Wiscon, I picked up The Honey Month by Amal el-Mohtar, a series of short stories and poems inspired by a sampler gift of 28 jars of honey she received. The book itself is divine–most of the stories are centered around bees, but not the type of bees you’ll find in any old hive. These are stories that are meant to be savored…they are to be read slowly, aloud, but just under your breath, and preferably barefoot.

Reading her book, it got me thinking: what if I could do something like that?  I’ve been wanting to do a special project for a long time now where I write a series of stories/poetry that have a common theme. I wanted to emulate The Honey Month’s format (emulation being the best form of flattery, I hope), but unfortunately, I don’t have twenty-eight jars of honey at my disposal. But what I do have is co-workers–Co-workers who love to take pictures.

So here’s the plan: I’ve chosen 12 photos from what my gracious co-workers at InterVarsity have sent in. I will create a "Calendar of Tales", flash stories and poetry set in each month and based on a photo. It will start off as an ebook, but I’m looking into finding a way to get it into print as an actual calendar of some sort, or at least a published book. I’m also looking into Kickstarter to see if I can offer more incentives: i.e. handwritten thank yous, handwritten calligraphy copies of the stories/poems, appearance as a character, that sort of thing.

As you can tell, self-publishing is a whole new venture for me. I’ll have to come up with 12 original stories, put them in ebook format, put together the incentives, figure out costs, work on promotion, etc, what have you. But let me tell you, I’m excited about this project. Yesterday, I wrote the first story: "Fat Elvis and Lemon Lover" (pictures taken by my friend Matt Rust) and when I finished, I sat back and thought, dang, this is going to be FUN!

Fat ElvisLemon Lover

So tell your family, tell your friends and keep watching the Café. I got a lot of work to do, but trust me, it will be worth it!

New Story & Viable Paradise XV

I’ll post about Wiscon in a bit, but first, NEWS.

I have a short story called "With Breath Too Sweet" that’s out in an anthology called "There was a Crooked House", put out by Pill Hill Press.

You can order the print anthology at Pill Hill Press for $14.49 or order the ebook for only $3.99 at Kindle or Nook.

Now, for the second bit of news. I’M GOING TO VIABLE PARADISE!

BlueHeadline

I’ve been selected along with 23 other SF writers to head over to Martha’s Vineyard in October to be part of the 15th class of Viable Paradise. Our instructors will be Elizabeth Bear, Debra Doyle, Steven Gould, James D. Macdonald, Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Steven Brust and Sherwood Smith.

As you can tell, I’ve been sort of stalling on Willow, so I’m hoping the workshop will give me a swift kick in the pants to finish it. In fact, even sending in the application helped me out–I had to send in an outline for Willow, which I’ve never actually sat down and did (well, I did something like it Writer’s Café, but not an actual document).

First step to all of this is figuring out logistics. I’ve gone from OH MY GOSH I MADE IT mode into holy crap I’m in how exactly am I going to pay for it mode. I’m tossing around some ideas, talking with some people. I’m thinking about doing a fundraiser, so if you have any ideas or suggestions, feel free to do so. And stay tuned to the Café over the next couple of weeks. Big things are afoot.

Last October, I was hanging out with Neil Gaiman. This October, I’ll be in Martha’s Vineyard. This is going to be great, folks. No. This is going to be awesome.

She’s All Light on the Million Writers Notable Stories of 2010 List, and Guest Post at Tor.com. I am not making this up.

Wow.

So, right after the post I made about Future Perfect being on Escape Pod, two other publishing news happened one right after another. May as well combine them in one post.

Okay…so…Sunday night, I said goodbye to the last of the guests who came up to celebrate my 40th birthday. This week, I had planned to ease back into the short story I’m working on and getting ready for the Easter weekend. I took a look at my Twitter feed, and saw some congratulation emails. I thought they were for Future Perfect, but they mentioned other writers too, like Charlie Jane Anders, editor of I09, who I met at Wiscon last year. So I was confused.

Finally, someone sent me a link, which took me to the The storySouth Million Writers Notable Stories of 2010. And guess what? She’s All Light made the list!

So what does this mean? Well, first of all, I get to put the nifty tagline “listed as a storySouth Million Writers Notable Story of 2010” on my published works page. But this also means that if it is listed among the top 10 stories on May 20, then “She’s All Light” is eligible for the storySouth Million Writers Award. To be truly honest, I don’t think it will make it that far, because there are so many awesome stories on the list, the fact that “She’s All Light” made it on the list in the first place makes my head spin.

The cool thing is, some of these stories I have already read and can absolutely vouch for their inclusion. “Memories in Bronze, Feathers, and Blood” by Aliette de Bodard. Nearly all the nominated stories from Clarkesworld, including “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Space/Time” by Catherynne M. Valente, which deserves first prize because I loved, loved, loved, the bits about the science fiction writer. “The Notebook of My Favourite Skin-Trees” by Alex Dally MacFarlane, which also appeared in Daybreak Magazine. “Standard Loneliness Package” by Charles Yu. (And speaking of Lightspeed, they won Million Writers Award for best new online magazine! How cool is that?), “The Fermi Paradox Is Our Business Model” by Charlie Jane Anders, John Scalzi’s “The President’s Brain is Missing”

But there are other stories on the list that I haven’t read, stories by Amal El-Mohtar and Mishell Baker and An Owomoyela and Sandra McDonald and Mari Ness and Yoon Ha Lee and Rachel Swirsky…so many that I’ve decided to actually go and read all the stories on the list, because they look awesome!

Congratulations to everyone who made the list. I feel awfully humble and proud to be listed among these great stories.

+++

So, that was all I was going to post, but as I was writing this, I got an email with news I’ve been wanting to post forever.

Last year, I put in a bid at the Carl Brandon Society’s Con or Bust Auctionfor a guest post on Tor.com. I was quite surprised, therefore, to learn I won.

Yesterday, my guest blog was put up. It’s a joint post with Kate Nepveu in her reread of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. In addition to the books, she also watched the movies, so my contribution was a review of the last movie, Return of the King. The extended version, of course. That was a lot of fun.

So head on over to Tor.com to check it out and post in the comments section what you think. Some good conversation happening there. And while you’re at it, check out the forums at Escape Pod and check out the conversation happening there on Future Perfect. It’s been really cool to see what things people are seeing in the story, stuff that not even I considered.

And finally, I swear, I don’t think I have anything else in the publishing hopper coming out. The fact this is all happening around my birthday makes me think, yeesh, what would happen when I turn 50…

(Hopefully Willow comes out much more sooner than that…)

"Future Perfect" is now up at Escape Pod!

It has been an incredibly eventful week at the Café. Wednesday marked my 40th year of walking on this earth. Today, I got a belated birthday surprise: “Future Perfect“, my first science fiction short story, is now up at Escape Pod! And boy oh boy, is it ever yummy listening goodness! So what are you waiting for? Go listen! Go now! Enjoy!

LaShawn’s MetaPost for 2011 (So Far)

So, here it is, March, and I’m finally getting around to posting what I’ve been up to on the writing field. If you are friends with me on Facebook and/or Twitter, you already know what I’ve been doing and what’s been published. But I thought I do a metapost to clue things in for regulars at the Cafe, as well as give you the scoop on some upcoming projects I haven’t mentioned on the social networks yet.

January was a weird non-fiction month. About the second weekend of January, I got an email from the new non-fiction editor Fantasy Magazine, which I slush for, asking if I could write an article on short notice.  Like, in two days. And I would get paid. I’ve published non-fiction before, but this was the first time I’ve worked directly with an editor, in this case, Esther Inglis-Arkell. I had to crank out 1500 words of a first draft and relinquish it to Esther immediately instead of sitting on it for a couple of weeks while I thought out the revisions. Then I had to work with Esther in feeling our way through the edits until we were both satisfied with the end result. From the time I was first emailed to where I got the thumbs up on the finished draft, the whole process took less than a week. I don’t think I’ve ever finished anything so fast.

But I am pleased and honored to say that the article, “From Story to Screen”, a look at how stories are translated from book to screen, will be up at the newly revamped Fantasy Magazine site on March 28.

That crash course gained me achievements in working with an editor, so when the Christian organization I work for, InterVarsity, approached me on doing a Valentine Day’s article a week later, I was well prepared to crank that out. If you were ever curious on how my husband Jon and I met, you can check out “From Chapter to Chapel” which posted on Valentine’s Day weekend.

On top of those to articles, I also worked on a write-up of the panel I moderated at Wiscon last year: Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting in the Cafeteria which will appear in the Wiscon Chronicles #5 which will come out at this year’s Wiscon 35(which I’ll be at). And I did another movie review that came from winning last year’s Con or Bust Auction. When that one is completed, I’ll announce it here.

With all the non-fiction news, the same fiction side of things have been extremely slow, but ironically has me the most excited. The smaller side of the news is that I got another poem published. Marie Antoinette Ponders the Moon went live on February 20 and can be found at Every Day Poets. I’ve always been fascinated by Marie Antoinette; I’ve read her biographies, as well as that wonderful book Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund (which I reviewed) and watching the anime Rose of Versailles. I wrote the poem after watching Marie Antoinette, a most awesome movie.

I’ve saved the best news, the SUPER AWESOME HAPPY HAPPY YEAH news for last. I’ve sold Future Perfect, which appeared in the March 2009 issue of Ideomancer, to the science fiction audio magazine Escape Pod to be read in a future podcast! How awesome is that? More details will be forthcoming once I get them, but as you can see, I am super, super excited. I’ve been an Escape Pod listener for as long as I can remember, as well as their sister podcast for fantasy Podcastle (I’m still working up the nerve to listen to their horror cast, Pseudopod). What this means is that you’ll get to download Future Perfect to your iPod, or whatever you listen to music, and hear it read by a professional voice actor.

So stay tuned to the Café! We’ll have more goodies coming up as they appear. And if you’re a reader of science fiction, if you are voting in the Nebulas or Hugos or even the Locus Awards, keep in mind that “She’s All Light at Daybreak Magazine is eligible for nomination for 2010. Happy voting!

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