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August 22nd, 2010

Has anyone used the possibility LJ offers on the sign-in screen to open an account for writing a book? I clicked on the link, and it takes you to Blurb. I noticed that the link said something about a partnership between Blurb and LJ. I didn't investigate any further because I don't have time right now; but I wondered if anyone here was doing or has done this.

I'm mostly curious about the copyright issues. I know back when Geocities existed, it had hidden in its terms of service that anything posted on its server became its property. Unfortunately, many fans discovered and/or were directed by other fans to this clause after they had posted their fics, manips, and/or vids.

Thank you for any info.

July 17th, 2010

Everyone knows that marketing and promo is a dog eat dog world. I see authors talk about having multiple pseudonyms, some of which are secret from their friends, families, and other authors. I see them talk about how tough promo gets. And I shake my head.

 

Naked Face LexI understand that for some people a pen name is necessary to hide from your pastor, your mother-in-law, your boss and your kids that you write gay romances. I have the luxury of just being myself. The people that run the company I work for don’t care what I write as long as I do my job well. My kid won’t read my stuff, but she brags that her mom is a published author who writes smut. I don’t have a pastor and my mother-in-law just isn’t that interested in what I do. Even if I had all these folks who care that deeply about how I use my free time…I would still do this exactly the way that I do. After all, I am who I am. Unashamedly so.

 

So why did I tell you this? Because just being me is how I survive. I think it’s great if you can promo the hell out five different pen names, keep them all straight, and still hide them all from everyone you know. But I’m a pragmatist and I like that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. So for me, one name and multiple genres – M/F, M/M, ménage, paranormal, contemporary, historical, sci fi – is what works. The only common denominator is that they are all romances and all erotic. For some, this would be an impossible task to do under a single name. For me, it’s the only way to survive and build a fan base. Is it easy? Not always. Do I lose readers because I refuse to tie myself to a single genre? Probably. Is the creative part of me satisfied by doing this? You betcha.

 

I work a full-time, demanding job. I don’t have a lot of time to devote to writing let alone promo. If I had to promo more than one name, I’d be done in this business. The upside to a single pen name is that I don’t have to market myself in different ways. This IS who Lex Valentine is…an author who writes across genres. Another positive is that the single name translates to a branding advantage.  I don’t have to build a new fanbase with each additional name. There are fans out there who will read pretty much anything I turn out regardless of genre. 

 

Lex girlPart of surviving in this industry is knowing how to market yourself. Luckily, I spent 15 years learning about branding and marketing on the internet from my daughter’s dad who is a media consultant and professional photographer with Getty. I know the value of a short, recognizable URL and know how to put together a website that is eye-catching and suits what I do. I know about domains and royalty free images. The part that wasn’t easy was figuring out the groups.

 

For those of us published in the epub world, Yahoo groups are a necessary evil. And they were alien animals to me when I started this journey two years ago. I’m still clumsy in how I deal with them. I have an innate aversion to spamming the loops with the same promo over and over again, day in and day out. I prefer to be myself and chat about the writing process in guest blog posts and answer questions about my characters in interviews whether written or on radio shows. I’ve been told I promo well and don’t beat people over the head with my stuff. I’m not sure I come across that way to everyone but I sure try not to be obnoxious with it.

 

I don’t want the Lex Valentine name to be perceived as a Diva nor do I want it seen as someone who gushes in a patently false manner. Neither is who I am and I prefer to just be me even while wearing the mantle of the romance author. Being real isn’t just a survival strategy for me. There are core values the company I work for has and I embraced them. They have become part of me and everything I do, even my dealings as an author have a basis in them – integrity, fairness, excellence, and compassion. So I don’t feed people lines. I treat them all as politely and ethically as I can.

 

Fire SeasonOne reason I work so hard at my image is that I know it’s tough to walk the line between genres. I’ve been in a M/M chat and been put down and looked down at and talked down to because I also write het. I’ve had books not be reviewed because the hero starts out on page one in bed with a woman whom he’s not having sex with, he’s in fact breaking up with her. It didn’t matter that all the sex he has in the book is with a man. I was turned away because of that opening scene. I’ve had a number of authors pause when they find out I write gay as well as het stories. I’ve heard all the murmurs of “I can’t get into that. I don’t know how people can read it.”

 

Sometimes, I feel like I just can’t win. I write what’s inside me, the stories that want out, yet I know that inevitably, someone will take issue. And the camps on either side don’t seem to fit a multi-genre author like myself. There are comments people make and there are ways that I’ve been treated that make me realize that to some fans of the M/M genre and within some groups, I will never be as good as or taken as seriously as authors who only write gay books.

 

One of the other things that’s tough to overcome when you write in multiple genres is the fact that there are authors out there who boldly state that they write gay romances because they make more money at it. These authors started out het and shifted to the other genre. And readers do ask, “Are you like author X? She wrote het and now says she writes gay romance because of the money.” When they ask me that, I almost always get the sense that they don’t like it.

 

I don’t write gay stories strictly for the money. I tell the stories I have within me to tell. I don’t care if they are straight or gay. I write them because the characters want me to. I don’t discriminate between them. I want to give them all equal air time. Sure, authors like to make money, but apparently a lot of readers prefer the notion that their favorite authors do this for the love of writing not the almighty dollar. And the love of writing is what drives me.

 

One of the ways I’ve survived all the cliques and the little discriminatory jibes is that I’ve taken myself out of a lot of the chatty groups. I remain on the ones where I promo, but I’m careful not to send out too much. I’ve tried to focus on more professional groups and a couple of groups where I have friends and feel at home. I offer author goodies on a regular basis to the growing fan base of the Darkworld. I try to stay accessible and real to those readers.

 

Common GroundI encourage fan mail if only to hear the ideas the fans have about my characters. Their words can absolutely affect how I write a book or treat a character. If you don’t believe me, ask Wave about Fire Storm whose plot changed significantly because of her. The feelings and input of the fans matter to me and I try to make that known to them.  I work hard to make my characters real so that readers become vested in them and the world I built. I want to write them the stories I want to read with the HEA that makes you cry and the sex scenes that make you want your partner to strip naked right then and there. I want to give them the best books I possibly can.

 

The writing part is usually the easiest part of this job. Sure, there are characters and plots that can drive you nuts but for the most part, I can work them out. Finding the time to write can be a challenge, but I eke out the minutes and hours here and there and end up with manuscripts to turn in to my editors.

Finding the right balance to promotion and marketing is difficult, but for me the key to this is pressing the flesh and talking to people about what I do rather than spamming the loops. Learning from others in the industry, from those in the professional groups has become key for me as well. Realizing that there are people who will put you down for being a genre straddler and not letting it affect what I do keeps me writing and creating the characters that readers love. Being true to who I am – whether under my legal name or my pen name – is my personal key to surviving in the world of publishing. Just be real. People really do appreciate that.
Lex sig

 

July 14th, 2010

I'm very happy to welcome writer Lex Valentine as our speaker this coming Saturday. Lex will be tackling survival strategies and other interesting angles on the writing scene. She is a best selling and multi-published author.

Lex has been writing ever since she could hold a pencil. A few years ago, she got into writing in an online paranormal serial story and then into blogging. When she posted snippets of work on her blog Sunlight Sucks, author Jennifer Leeland began encouraging her to submit her writing to publishers. That is what led to her first contract in October 2008.

An award winning, multi-published PAN author, Lex is a member of EPIC, the International Association for the Study of Popular Romance, and the Romance Writers of America. She belongs to several RWA special interest chapters: Rainbow Writers, PASIC, Passionate Ink, and Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal.

Her list of publishers includes: Ellora’s Cave, Pink Petal Books, MLR Press, Liquid Silver Books, Noble Romance, Freya’s Bower, Wild Child Publishing, MSF, and Cobblestone Press. She is published in both ebook and print.

Born and raised in Salinas, California, Lex moved to Southern California in 1992. She lives in Orange County with her daughter Nikki and her own younger man Rott, a long-haired tattooed hottie. She loves loud rock music, builds her own computers, and has a propensity for having very weird vivid dreams about Nikki Sixx. Lex works full-time at a cemetery as the network administrator and has a love of all things techie.

Lex was a blogger before she was an author. Add that to her love of technology and art and it means you’ll find her all over the internet. The domain she’s had for 15 years has become her graphics site Winterheart Design. She blogs in a number of places including Liquid Silver’s SEX blog, Flirty Author Bitches, and Avoid Writer’s Hell.

Links

Author website and blog - lexvalentine.com

Personal blog - sunlightsucks.com

Tales of the Darkworld - talesofthedarkworld.com

Twitter - lexvalentine

Facebook - facebook.com/cemeterywinter

MySpace - myspace.com/cemeterywinter

Graphics - winterheart.com

Group blog - flirtyauthorbitches.com

June 23rd, 2010

Does anyone know if Writer's Market is available in electronic form that comes with perpetual updates (for a one-time higher price) rather than having to pay for the humongoid book each year? When you're on a disabled person's budget, across town from the library, and not always able to drive....I'd just rather have my own copy for many reasons, but not if I have to keep buying it each year!

May 15th, 2010

So what does it for me?  As an editor?  What can make me want to read your story?  I think what I like to look for is what a lot of editors want to see— don’t think it’s really special.  Are you ready for the secret to getting an editor’s attention?  Here’s the secret….make a good first impression, make it a professional impression.  Yup, that’s it. 


When you went on your first job interview, what did everyone give you as advice?  Dress nicely, be professional.  Same thing when submitting to a publishing house whether it’s ManLoveRomance Press (or our het imprint Passion in Print Press or YA/children’s Featherweight Press), Samhain Publishing, Aspen Mountain Press, LooseID or any of the other houses.  A professional submission is your first step.  You could have the most fabulous plot and interesting characters but if you’ve put the editor in a bad mood first, it’s harder for the story to shine. Format your submission according to the house guidelines.  Do they want to see a cover letter/email? Want a synopsis? The full manuscript or a partial? 

In your cover letter/email make sure to include: your full name - yes, not the snazzy pen name – if you’re using one; your contact information (address, phone and email), and any previous publishing experience - if you have none, that’s okay to say since everyone starts somewhere. 

Synopsis – yes, we read them to get a feel for the manuscript.  Just like a reader will most likely read the blurb before they buy a book to see what they’re reading, an editor likes to see a synopsis.  We don’t see them as spoilers, and for goodness sake, don’t end a synopsis with a cliff hanger.  Don’t leave us guessing because this is one way to turn an editor off.

And then your pride and joy, the manuscript.  It’s a good thing to put your contact information on the cover page of the document.  Make it easier for us if we want to contact you with that acceptance.  It also helps to name your file with your last name and the title of the story (i.e. Smith_LoveForever). That way it’s easy for us to see whose file we’re reading.  Are you getting the hint that all these little steps make an editor happy?  Puts us in a good mood to read your submission.

Now what happens after it’s been accepted for publication?  I did a blog for J.L. Langley a while ago all about “Why editors are good for you” (http://jl-langley.livejournal.com/10119.html) and looking back at that blog, I still hold to it. I view working with an author on their manuscript as a team effort.  It’s my job to be the outside eyes to improve any weaknesses that I see WITHOUT losing the author’s or character’s voices.  I am a big believer in retaining as much of the author’s voice as possible.  What does it mean I sacrifice to keep author’s voice?  Grammar.  It is important to be as close to grammatically correct as you can be but let’s face it, most people don’t speak or write grammatically correct.  Yes, I know, bad editor advocating not being grammatically correct.  At MLR we also use line editors and proof readers to pick up anything glaring that gets by the author and the editor.

So…what should you submit? A professionally packaged submission with a cover letter/email, synopsis and manuscript.   The manuscript that you submit and the one that gets published, probably won’t match word for word – the story will be there but might have a few more (or less) twists than you had at the beginning.  Remember, no one is as invested in producing the best story possible – besides the author of course – than his or her editor.

Any questions for me?

May 10th, 2010

I asked Kris Jacen to come talk to us about what editors like to see from writers on this coming Saturday. What is the secret?

Kris Jacen is one of ManLoveRomance Press’ (www.mlrpress.com) senior editors as well as the formatting director. She was invited to join the MLR staff a little over two years ago and has never looked back. Working with over thirty phenomenal authors such as Victor J. Banis, P.A. Brown, James Buchanan, William Maltese and Rick R. Reed has allowed her to both hone her editorial skills and indulge her inner fangirl. Kris also acts as editor, mentor and sounding-board for newcomers including Kimberly Gardner, Lex Valentine, S.J. Frost, Patric Michael and Jason Edding. With this stable of talent under her guidance, Kris is quick to tell anyone who will listen that she loves her job. And her authors are just as quick to say that they love their editor.
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April 17th, 2010

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Good morning everyone, and thanks to Jan and Shared Wisdom for asking me to guest here today. :)

As Jan mentioned in her intro, one of the things people often reference about my writing is diversity. I've heard that for a while now.

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April 12th, 2010

I asked Willa Okati to come talk about writing her m/m books with us this Saturday. She has such diversity with her stories.

Find out more about her work here: http://www.willaokati.com/Willa_Okati/Home.html
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April 5th, 2010

Thank you

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Between four donors, Shared Wisdom now has a year and four months of a paid account.

Thank you!

March 13th, 2010


General introductory bit:

I’m Kim Dare and as Jan said in her introduction, I write BDSM – mostly M/M, with some M/F and the occasional bit of ménage thrown in for good luck. I also dabble in the paranormal – my obsession of the moment is shifters (wolves, lions and avians so far). When it comes right down to brass tacks – I’ll write a bit of anything as long as it has three components. Kink, love and a happy ending.

Kink, because the dynamic involved in vanilla relationships has always confused the hell out of me, and I firmly believe it’s best to write about a psychology you understand.

Love, because my characters tend to fall in love with each other and demand that they be part of a romance book, regardless of what I intend to write about when I sit down at my desk.

And a happy ending, because, if I want to cry, I’ll watch the news. I write, in large part, to give a happy ending to the kind of characters who don’t tend to receive enough of them in the real world – I’d never sleep at night if I let them down on that score.

Okay, on to the actual article, lol…

 

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