New Publisher Looks for Submissions

A new book imprint, Tu Books, is looking for manuscript submissions. A division of Lee & Low, Tu, which means "you" in many languages, is specifically looking for middle grade and young adult fantasy that features characters of all different cultures.

Imprints like Tu Books are welcome in this day and age when some publishers create bookcovers where the main character looks caucasian, when in reality, they are a person of color. Fantasy books, as the Tu Books website points out, seem to have the fewest multicultural characters of any genre.

My current novel is ethnic in the sense that the characters are Croatian. Though they wouldn't look very different from "typical" fantasy characters, I don't believe there are many fantasies set in this beautiful country. To see a couple of pictures, click here.

For an interesting discussion of ethnicity in novels, check out this post (read through the comments).

Also, for writers of fantasy short stories, Port Yonder Press is collecting manuscripts for two different anthologies. One focusing on elves, and the other showcasing dragons. Check out the submission guidelines.

To read more on the "white-washing" of book covers controversy, see these articles: #1  #2  #3  #4

Do you have any ethnic characters in your stories?

Free Kindle Software

Do you want a Kindle? I'm not sure yet if I do, though I hear raves about them all over. I think I might be more tempted by the poorly-named iPad. The ability to write and read on one device might save me from having to buy a laptop.

 I've noticed on Amazon that quite a few Kindle books are available for free. That's too bad for those of us who haven't wanted to spring for Amazon's device.

But now there's good news. I read on the Econobuster's blog, that Amazon offers free software for non-Kindle owners, so they can read Kindle books. There's software for PCs, Macs, Blackberrys,  iPhones, and even the new iPad. Amazon has all the free software here.

Once you've got your software loaded, head over to Amazon and check out the Kindle bestsellers. You'll be surprised how many of them are free. Amazon also has a free book collections page that you can check out.

Stealing Movie Themes

Are you stuck for a great theme for your new novel? You can steal one. Well, not like plagiarism stealing. It's more like getting inspired.

Think about a movie you've watched recently--even if it wasn't very good. Come up with a one-sentence summary of the the theme (this is good practice for your own story). Then imagine the same theme with completely different characters and setting.

Will other people be able to tell you swiped your theme? See if you can guess where these themes come from:

The one thing a character can really do, a skill that gives her confidence and a sense of worth, must be held back and hidden or her identity will be discovered.

What movie is it? Spiderman. I threw you off by changing the sex of the main character. You can do the same thing with the theme you select.

Here's another one:

A character is so focused on how others need to change, that he can't recognize what changes are needed in himself.

Did you guess? It's RV. Robin Williams' character is desperate for his kids to change and want to spend time with him like they did when they were younger. He misses the point that he has let his work come before his family, and has stopped pursuing a relationship with them.

So, the next movie you watch, don't consider it "down time" from writing. Use it to come up with a great new idea.

What have you been watching lately?

Note: I found a terrific post by Creepy Query Girl that speaks to this topic. She shows how the plots of the movies Pocahontas and Avatar are virtually the same. Fascinating.

Freedom to Write

Since I wrote about a free time-management workshop here, I'll pass on something new I found on Jennifer Bertram's blog. It's a free program that will disable your internet for the time you specify, so you can use your computer for a novel new activity: writing!

I wrote my first novel on a laptop that had no internet. It was not surprising that I experienced many 3K days on that laptop. I couldn't periodically check email, Facebook, writing blogs or any of the other time-suckers. The only thing I could check was how many words I wrote. And write I did.

Since I've been writing on my main computer (with an internet connection), I've found that my self-discipline is not what I thought it was. Sure, I can unplug my modem, but the minute I get an itch to do a little research, or just get stuck, I plug back in.

Enter Freedom. It's a Mac-based program (entirely free), that allows you to freeze your internet for up to eight hours at a time. If you absolutely have to get back on before your time is up, you'll have to reboot your computer.

I downloaded the program and gave it a try. Right away, my open internet pages froze, though they'll start back up for me in an hour. Freedom gives you the option of connecting to local internet networks, so if you're a journalist doing local research, you can still use it to keep you focused.

I've done a little research to see if there's an equivalent program for PCs, but I haven't found anything yet. If you know of something, leave a comment, and I'll add it to the post.

How do you keep yourself from the distractions of the internet?

Free Writing Goals Workshop

Recently I wrote about a free online writing conference called the Muse Online Writing Conference in this post. The conference doesn't start until October, but in the meantime they offer free online workshops that you can attend.

I'm excited that the free workshop offered next week, Making and Sticking to Your Writing Goals, is taught by a mom of four. She must know what she's talking about. If you'd like to attend, go here, and click register. Then you can go to the event calendar and sign up for different workshops, including the one below (I've posted the workshop description from the Muse website). Let me know if I'll see you there!

March 31, 2010
Making and Sticking to Your Writing Goals by Karina L. Fabian:  
Do you want to be a writer—but never have time to write? Do you find yourself bouncing from project to project, doing much and accomplishing little? Do you start each year with a list of goals and end each year with a heap of regrets? Multi-published author Karina Fabian will help you examine your life and your schedule, guide you in making realistic writing goals and provide tips for creating a schedule (or routine) to help you meet those goals.
As a military wife and a mother of four, Karina has “been there, done that” when it comes to putting off writing, wishing to write, regretting not writing...  Nonetheless, she’s learned to create routines and schedules that have helped her to write and publish hundreds of articles, dozens of short stories in magazines and anthologies and three novels, plus edit two anthologies. Read about her works

Visual Thesaurus: A great way to find that perfect word

Part and parcel of writing is choosing words. Sometimes that's easy, and other times it's excruciating. I've found a great tool to keep the pain at a minimum.

It's called the Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus. This program has an ingenious way of mapping the relationships between words. A regular thesaurus is fine, but seeing the words and their connections helps me far more than looking at a list.

You can head over to the Visual Thesaurus site and do a few searches for free to check out how it works. If you only need it a few times a week, then don't bother with a membership.

But if you get addicted, the cost is $2.95 per month, or $19.95 per year, after the 14-day free trial. And if you get a few friends together for a group membership, the cost goes down to $10 for the year.

If the price turns you off, you have an alternative in the Visuwords-online graphical dictionary. Using Princeton University's opensource database, it gives you a similar visual map with definitions and synonyms.

If you just want a "normal" thesaurus (and this one has a link to the Visual Thesauraus), try this site. And happy word hunting!

Short Story and Poetry Submissions

When poetry and fiction writers look to make a few dollars from their writing, they usually have to freelance in order to make ends meet. In a perfect world, we'd be able to write what we want and still get paid, rather than writing about something we could care less about.

I recently found an excellent website that you'll want to bookmark if you're a poet or a fiction writer.

Duotrope Digest is a searchable database of literary magazines that publish poetry and fiction.

With a free registration, you can search for magazines that publish specifically what you write. You can search by genre, style, theme, length, payscale, and many more. While some magazines don't pay at all, there are quite a few that pay from token amounts to professional rates.

They offer a free online submission tracker to help you keep up with which markets you've submitted to. There's a separate page for new markets, in case you want to increase your chances of publication with a magazine that's just starting out. To top it all off, you'll find a deadline calendar, listing markets with upcoming calls for submission.

Another good spot to visit is New Pages, a website that lists all the literary magazines in America. They publish news and submission guidelines  for magazines, alternative newsweeklies, an other places to consider publishing.

For you novelists out there, the thought of trying to write something shorter than 25K sends you in search of serious chocolate. So, in the interest of your sanity, I offer some links to articles on short story writing. My current novel started out as a short story that would have been submitted to one of these magazines, so you never know if one of these markets will spark your next great idea.

Short Story Articles: #1 #2 #3 #4

Forums where you can share your short stories and get feedback: Short Story Group and StoryWrite

A String of Pearls

I recently read a post on a blog that boasts many well-known writers as contributors. This particular entry caught my attention with its complex sentences and deep thoughts.

My first reaction was to feel inadequate as a writer. I compared myself to someone who has been in the business a lot longer than me. I wondered how I, a novice, could ever rise to a level even close to that kind of prose?

Then I thought about it for awhile. What kind of words do I want to spill onto the page?

Do I want an intricate tango of words, complex in their construction, leaving my reader to chew over their meaning? Or . . . a simple string of beautiful pearls?

If my writing were a beverage, I'd rather my words be a clear glass of water, than a fine wine--leaving the receiver to puzzle out the flavors. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy writing that makes me stop, think, and even chew. It's good for me.

But for now, I think I'll paractice writing words with clarity, rather than trying to impress with any philosophical ideas I might have. Just a thought. How about you?

Making Money from Your Writing

One of the most frustrating things about being a writer is that you spend hours and hours at your computer, and you feel like you have nothing to show for it. It's hard to justify time away from your family and friends when there's no paycheck waiting, and no boss looking over your shoulder.

In the years leading up to publication, you want to leverage your writing in to something that pays, even if it's not much. And it can't hurt to collect some publishing credits. Here are a few ideas you can try.

Online Freelance Writing
Several sites allow you to sign up as a freelance writer. A buyer posts a project, and writers bid on it. Whoever wins the bid does the job. I've worked for Elance for a year, and it's been a good experience. Elance holds the money in escrow, and when the job is done, the payment is made immediately. I can't speak personally about the other companies, but Elance is very professional.


Magazine Writing
There is a periodical for every niche in the world. Do you like fly-fishing, and sometimes fish in Canada? There's a magazine for that. Do you know anything about cheerleading in the USA? There's a magazine for that, too.

How do you find out what they need? Start with the magazines you already subscribe to. The big ones, like Woman's Day, or Better Homes and Gardens, are tough to get into without a track record. But smaller, regional or specialty publications need a steady flow of articles all year long. Check out the website of the magazines you get, and look for "writer's guidelines" or "submission guidelines".

If you have expertise in any area--from your career or you hobbies--do a search to find which publications cater to others with that interest. Look for regional publications like parent magazines and local tourist "newspapers".

Subscribe to free newsletters that post lists of freelance opportunities. Here are a few that I receive:
Worldwide Freelance Writer
Funds for Writers
Writing for Dollars

Check out my earlier post with more freelancing ideas here.
Terry Whalin has an article on 7 Ways to Write for Profit on the Internet here.

How have you made money from your writing? Post a comment to let us know.

Muse Online Writing Conference--It's Free!

Have you ever been to a writing conference? There's no better way to hone your skills, make connections with writers, agents and editors, and get motivated to keep on writing.

I've been fortunate enough to attend three major conferences so far. Two of the three I attended on scholarship, and the third was a wonderful gift from my family.

But here's one that you might consider, because it's not only free, it's online. So no matter the state of your budget, or which state (or country) you live in, there's no reason not to attend.

It's called The Muse Online Writer's Conference. I attended last fall, and really enjoyed the workshops I chose.

The dates for the conference are October 11-17, 2010. The only catch is that you must register before August 15th to get in for free. After that, it's a nominal $5 charge. Planners are expecting at least 2000 attendees.

What can you expect from this conference? There will be workshops and live chats with editors from publishing houses, some great agents, authors and publicists. You'll find live pitch sessions where you can pitch your book to agents, and weeklong workshops on everything from plotting to marketing. Check their website for information on how to register, and lists of the presenters and workshops lined up so far.

Registration is open now. Why don't you sign up while you're thinking about it? I just did.
The Muse Online Writing Conference 


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