Saturday, July 21, 2012

Any Major Dude Will Tell You

"Any major dude with half a heart will tell you, my friend,
Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again.
When the demon is at your door
In the morning it won't be there no more.
Any major dude will tell you..."


Friday, July 20, 2012

Another Reason Ray Bradbury Rocks

Less talk, more writing, because talking too much about a project is the surest way to snuff out your creative fire. I'm sometimes guilty of this, but not today. See you in another chapter!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

An Author's Declaration of Independence

A year ago this month, after fifteen years and a dozen books in the corporate publishing world, I founded my own digital press, Stella Link Books, to publish my backlist and forthcoming fiction. In February, live from the London Book Fair, I published First You Write: The Worst Way to Become an Almost Famous Author & the Best Advice I Got While Doing It, a mini-memoir about my journey from small press to Big Six to indie. In celebration of Stella's first birthday, First You Write is free on Kindle Thursday through Saturday, July 5-7.

Meanwhile, here's my personal Declaration of Independence, which originally appeared on Boxing the Octopus last year:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for craftspeople to dissolve the business models which have connected them with the marketplace and to assume the separate and equal station to which the Nature of Art and Nature’s Creator entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them.

We hold these truths to be self-evident:
That all writers are not created equal. Talent is innate and a matter of opinion. Craft skill is hard-earned and subject to interpretation. Artistic integrity is a personal choice.

That writers are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights. And that among these are a Publishing Life, Creative Liberty and the pursuit of both income and Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Publishers are instituted, deriving their powers from the supply of writers and the demand of readers.

That whenever any Publishing Model becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the Writers to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new Publishing Model, founded on principles and distributing powers in a form most conducive to the Income of Writers and the Happiness of Readers.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Publishers long established should not be changed for light and transient causes. History hath shewn that Writers are willing to suffer, while evils are sufferable, rather than grow a pair, take responsibility for their own creative choices and champion their work in the marketplace. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations evinces a design to humiliate, disempower and pauperize them, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Publishing Model, and to take Responsibility for their future security.

The history of the present Publishing Model is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations. In every stage of these Oppressions — the inefficacy of the broken Query system, the specious calculation and inequity of Advances, the vagary and abuse of anonymous Reviews, the steady drift of commitment from Art to Celebrity — We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

I, therefore, the Representative of Myself as an Artist, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of my intentions, do solemnly publish and declare, that I am, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent.

That I am Absolved from all Allegiance to the Old School Publishing Model. That all the fear, prejudice and inertia that held me back is and ought to be totally dissolved.

That as a Free and Independent Artist, I have full Power to create my own Books, contract Alliances with other Artists, establish Commerce, and do all other Acts and Things which Independent Publishers may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, I pledge to the practice of this craft my Life, my Fortune and my sacred Honor.

Joni Rodgers (paraphrasing Thomas Jefferson)
July 2011

Download First You Write free on Kindle July 5-7, 2012 and look for the new Stella Link eBookstore--a whole new indie book-buying experience--this fall.

2 Great Contests for Writers

Have you written a great indie-published/self-published e-book and want help getting the word out? If so, check out this First 50 Words contest from the League of Extraordinary Writers. Deadline is July 20th, and it's easy-peasy to enter.

Another alternate route many writers are exploring is e-publishing via an electronic arm of an established legacy (traditional) publisher. Avon Impulse is looking for some good holiday-themed romance short stories and novellas. A great opportunity for romance writers to break in.

Have a wonderful Fourth!

Monday, July 02, 2012


Lucinda Dyer and I, both of this merry crew, have had the pleasure of working with Rebecca Yount on the launch this week of her debut mystery, an ebook called A DEATH IN C MINOR: A Mick Chandra Mystery. This is the first title in a seven book series. The other six novels are already written and also will be released as e-books, with the second title in the series, THE ERLKING, to be published this fall.

An aspect of Rebecca’s website that I thought was both fun and inventive is that she introduces her characters, giving them bios of their own. I love that. It’s compelling and different and a wonderful way to draw readers into a new title and series. After all, you won’t keep reading if you don’t care for the characters, so why not give people an introduction right away? Here’s the link:

Have you considered what you can do to refresh your own website, or to make it stand out? Is there some way to create content that better speaks directly to readers, as Rebecca has?

And, please let me introduce Rebecca Yount to you!

Rebecca hails from a literary family. She is a published author of poetry and editor of books and periodicals. She is also a composer and lyricist, whose work has been performed at Lincoln Center, New York. She was inspired to write the Mick Chandra novels during a summer sojourn in Essex, England. A bloody, unsolved murder had recently been committed in the local village. Intrigued by the case, Rebecca decided to solve the mystery in a novel. Her protagonist, the cocky but competent New Scotland Yard inspector Mick Chandra, was inspired by a real-life inspector she met on another summer visit to England. She meticulously researches the series on-site in the UK and at New Scotland Yard to ensure authenticity.  Rebecca lives on a lake in Virginia, with her husband, David, a prolific author and syndicated columnist, plus a Scottish terrier, and two cats.

In A DEATH IN C MINOR, beautiful young American concert pianist Jessica Beaumont retreats to a 17th century cottage near the village of Kenwick in rural England, determined to rebuild her life following a suicide attempt. She is embroiled in the murder investigation of a secretive neighbor who was hacked to death in his manor house with his own kitchen cleaver. She soon becomes romantically entangled with one of the murder suspects, a handsome wealthy landowner, and flings herself full-tilt into an affair with him. Then, on a rainy evening, Detective Inspector Michael “Mick” Chandra of New Scotland Yard shows up at the door of her rented cottage, informing her that he has been assigned to reopen the case. Against the backdrop of a violent murder evolves a passionate love story. When Jess herself finds the critical clue to the killing, she is threatened to become the next victim.

Please visit to learn more.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Happy Canada Day! (Monty Python "Lumberjack Song")

Real Questions for Real Readers: Name Your Passions

Once again, I've been reading an article where a reporter's gone out and asked a bunch of folks, including some prominent citizens, to name their "most influential book" ever. There were a few choices I recognized and heartily approved of (Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, David Weber's awesome Honor Harrington series), but once again I'm disappointed by the safe, unimaginative choices of too many respondents. (The Oxford Dictionary, really? Some unnamed biography of George Washington? Yawn.) Where are the books that made us fall in love with the written word? The books that inspired a lifelong passion to immerse ourselves in other worlds? Where are the novels that sparked a hunger (in many of us) to craft stories of our own?

And where in heaven's name are the red-headed stepchildren, the genre novels (other than the science fiction classics) that got me so excited about writing?

Also, who could ever choose only one book, out of all the dozens, scores, or hundreds of old favorites?

So here's my amended questionnaire for readers. I'd love to hear your answers if you're inclined to share.

1. Name the first book you remember truly loving? (My choice: Anna Sewell's Black Beauty, which should come as no surprise to anyone who knows what an animal lover I am.)

2. Name a book you hid from parents, teachers, or even your kids, a truly guilty pleasure. (My pick: The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty, because my fundamentalist grandmother would've wanted to have me exorcised if she'd had any clue what I was reading at 13.)

3. Name a book you've read and reread on multiple occasions, a "comfort read" you're always happy to return to. (Mine: I could name many, but I'll go with J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, because I've doubtless reread that one most often.)

4. Name a recent read (within the last few years) that made you want to hunt down and devour everything else in the series, all of the author's novels, or books written in a similar vein. (My choice: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins.)

5. Name the book you're reading or your most recent read and why you chose it. (Current read: A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin, because a friend talked me into reading the series, beginning with Game of Thrones, and I've been totally sucked in by the characters and the complex world-building.)

6. Bonus question for writers. Which of your own books or manuscripts (published or not) would you most like to reread at the moment and why. (My pick: My first romantic suspense novel, Fatal Error, because I love Susan and Luke and their star-crossed history and the way the lit fuse of their attraction heats up this West Texas-set suspense.)


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