Archive for August, 2014

Process or Program?

This is for all those unfortunate writers (like me) who aren’t blessed with the ability to start writing and keep writing a complete story without the need to stop and outline or at least brainstorm a plan for the flow of the plot.

Frankly I don’t know if there are many out there like that but whoever you are, you have my respect and admiration (and more than a tinge of envy).

I’m prolific out of the gate when I have an idea for a plot or a character and have started a story with as little as three random words, using the almost unlimited resources from books and the Internet for creative writing prompts. You could open up a dictionary and pick out three of four random words, although realistically they do better when referring to a character, a place, an object, and/or an event.

It’s what follows that initial burst of flowing words where I usually come to a screeching halt. What happens next? Why are these characters doing what they are doing at this place? What are they after? It’s time then to start planning, outline, and brainstorm the answers to these questions.

There are a number of ways to approach outlining, one of which is to employ a writing software application. Dramatica Pro, Wizards for Authors, Scrivener, Write Now, the list goes on and on. There are a number of free applications available for download, a few of which I’ve tried. There is a market for writing software, mainly because writers are looking for help in organizing their work, and like me, are searching for ways to write a novel or short story faster and more efficiently, minimizing the time between the germ of an idea and a work worthy of submitting for publication.

I won’t make any claims as to the worth of any of these applications. I’m sure there are writers who use them with some degree of success. I have experimented with a few of them and they all have redeeming value.

Given over twenty-five years in the IT field, I’m well aware of the work required to design, code, test, and implement these programs. The developer must anticipate the errors which might occur and the responsibility to stand by to support their product is an awesome one.

I prefer a process to organize and design a story. Software programs will do only as much as the developer allows, even if they are is a writer or consulted a writer while designing the application.

A process allows the writer to design, outline, and organize a story on a piece of paper, a Word document, an Excel spreadsheet, a whiteboard, or a chalkboard without restrictions on rules.

In the coming weeks, I will document my experience in using Excel for things such as timelines and character profiles.

My Author website:

http://jstrandburg.wordpress.com

Order Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid here:

http://www.amazon.com/Hustle-Henry-Cue-Ball-Jack-Strandburg-ebook/dp/B00BJ83O5K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385144732&sr=8-1&keywords=hustle+henry+and+the+cue-ball+kid

Order An Appointment With God: One Ordinary Man’s Journey to Faith Through Prayer here:

http://www.amazon.com/Appointment-Ordinary-Journey-Through-Prayer-ebook/dp/B00CWRZ5GI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385144792&sr=8-1&keywords=an+appointment+with+god%3A+one+man%27s

 

An interview with Kate Collins COO of Solstice Publishing, www.solsticepublishing.com

Are you a founding member of SP?
Kate – No, but I’m thrilled to be part of it now. There’s something very exciting about working with people who have a clear vision of the future and an idea of how to get there. Melissa knows where she wants Solstice to go, and it’s a privilege to be able to help her get it to that level.

I see you are an author as well as the COO of Solstice. How and when did you make the transition from writing to publishing?
Kate – I was an author first, and then Melissa gave me the opportunity to work with her at Solstice. I think it’s given me a unique perspective on what happens on the business side that many authors don’t get.

Do you work with agents?
Kate – Yes, we have a few agents whose clients have signed with us. We have far more unagented authors, but that doesn’t matter to us. Having, or not having, an agent is a personal choice for each author.

How many people are working for SP today?
Kate – We’ve got about twenty or more people, counting all our editors and proofreaders. There’s a whole amazing crew that works on the books that the authors rarely interact with.

You’ve done some recent reorganization at SP. Can you describe the company’s current structure?
Kate – We’ve got an amazing staff now. Our Editors-in-Chief do a wonderful job in reading submissions, answering author questions, and the like. It makes it easier for me, as COO, to help Melissa grow the company. We can spend more time finding opportunities to promote the titles on a daily basis now.

How would you characterize SP publishing today?
Kate – Growing, expanding, and thriving! Melissa’s done a great job in the recent changes, making it easier for all of us to get things done and help out the authors even more. We’re all big on communication, and the new chain of command really keeps the flow moving towards getting the titles released.

How do you attract new authors?
Kate – The normal venues of social media, and referrals by our authors. They’re our greatest asset, and best referral network.

On average how many submissions do you receive each month?
Kate – That varies so much! We really can’t put a number on it. One month can see three, the next have 20.

How does your staff choose which to publish?
Kate – That depends on the EiC that reads it and what they feel makes a good book. We’ve got a general guideline to go by, but it’s up to the individual Editor in Chief to make the call.

Is there any disadvantage being characterized as a “Midwestern Publisher?”
Kate – I didn’t even know there was such a thing! LOL. We’re a publisher. Period. Sure, we’re not one of the big 5 out of New York City, but we’re growing. Given the nature of communication now, it’s just as easy to email someone or ask them a question on FaceBook over sit down at lunch in Central Park and make a deal over a couple of drinks.

Do you have a virtual staff with everyone in different locations communicating via email?
Kate – Yes. In some ways, it’s an advantage. Our staff is able to work at different times, making it so someone’s available to talk with authors outside of what many would think of as normal business hours.

How many authors have you contracted with?
Kate – Probably around 200 currently, but the number fluctuates from month to month as new authors are accepted.

How many books do you publish each year?
Kate – That varies so much! It’s impossible to give an accurate number.

How many active books do you currently have?
Kate – Best estimate is around 400 titles out right now. We release new books almost every month, though, so it’s pretty fluid!

Are your contracts for authors or for individual books?
Kate – We contract each title separately, instead of by author.

I noticed that you have a rather long list of books optioned for film. How do you work that, and what are the steps?
Kate – We’ve been approached by production companies who had interest in some of our titles. Due to confidentiality agreements, we can’t say more.

 

My Author website:

http://jstrandburg.wordpress.com

Order Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid here:

http://www.amazon.com/Hustle-Henry-Cue-Ball-Jack-Strandburg-ebook/dp/B00BJ83O5K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385144732&sr=8-1&keywords=hustle+henry+and+the+cue-ball+kid

Order An Appointment With God: One Ordinary Man’s Journey to Faith Through Prayer here:

http://www.amazon.com/Appointment-Ordinary-Journey-Through-Prayer-ebook/dp/B00CWRZ5GI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385144792&sr=8-1&keywords=an+appointment+with+god%3A+one+man%27s

Since 2008 when she secured her own first book contract, Melissa Miller has become the head of one of the fastest growing mid-market publishers in the USA. This year (2014) she capped her achievements by being announced an International Best Selling author and two of her books were optioned for film.

Now Melissa, as chief executive officer of Solstice Publishing based in Farmington, Missouri, is paving the way for other budding authors to bring their creations to e-readers and print.

I have a personal reason to thank her. Solstice accepted my first book, Tread Carefully on the Sea, after I’d spent nearly a year trying to place it with a publisher.

I asked Melissa a few questions

1. How do you conclude that books are likely to sell? Is it pure instinct or do you have a formula? There isn’t a formula to know what will sell and what won’t. We look for well written manuscripts with interesting plots.

2. Based on your experience in publishing, what’s one thing you would advise today’s budding authors? One of the most important things new authors need to know is the importance of branding their name. The use of social media is going to be very helpful in their journey. The marketing and branding of their book is going to be a full time job. Writing the book is the fun part. After that the work begins.

3. Why do you think fiction is so powerful that almost everyone wants to read it – if not write it? I think fiction is so powerful because it’s not real. After a long day at work, or taking care of the kids, or cleaning the house, readers like to escape into new worlds. It’s nice to get away from reality for a while.

4. What were your favorite childhood books and how did that affect your career? As a child my favorites were Winnie The Pooh then as a teen I grew into loving Stephen King. Now as an adult I like a variety. I enjoy Stephanie Meyers, Cassandra Clare, Jeannette Oak, Nicholas Sparks and then of course all the great authors of Solstice Publishing.

Melissa’s company: With over 200 authors covering every category of fiction and rapidly expanding into non-fiction, Solstice is quickly gaining a reputation for fast paced suspense thrillers, sizzling romance, action adventure, science fiction, and a spooky collection of horror and paranormal reads. Critically acclaimed authors have achieved top spots on best seller lists, had their stories adapted to screenplays, and won movie deals with top Hollywood studios.

Melissa Miller is an Amazon International Best Selling Author under a pen name. She writes paranormal/ romance and woman’s fiction. She’s a wife and the mother of two boys.