Saturday, May 26, 2007

Sword Swallower's Daughter is Finished

Last night at 1 a.m. I typed THE END to my first draft version of THE SWORD SWALLOWER'S DAUGHTER. What a fabulous feeling.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Writers and Websites

The following is the text to a talk I'm giving tomorrow to the California Writers' Club, Inland Empire Chapter.

Do I Need a Website?

Back when I was young and flippant, I informed my dental hygienist that I brushed twice a day and asked if it was really that important to floss my teeth also.

“Only if you want to keep them,” she replied without a missing a beat.

So it is with writers and websites. If you’re serious about writing for publication, it’s time for you to look into creating a presence on the internet.

I Googled Myself

In today’s marketplace smart people seeking information on a subject or person turn to the web. I just typed my byline Carolyn Burns Bass into Google and came back with hits filling the first four pages. Some of those hits are directly culled from my websites, but many of them links to book reviews I’ve published and responses that I’ve made on other people’s blogs and MySpace pages.

If an editor wanted to look deeper into my publishing history, it would not be hard to find more than enough information to prove that I am a serious writer, serious about being published.

You and Your Platform

Agents and editors banter around the word “platform.” In today’s publishing world, authors are packaged as commodities. It’s beyond genre, category, or voice. It’s about how the publisher can market the author along with the book.

A platform to the publisher/editor is a way to sell books. A platform to the author is a way to sell ideas.

A platform is not just the stage on which you stand to pitch your product, it’s the product itself. In the case of authors it’s more than just the book, but what drove the author to write it. It’s the backstory of the book, the story before the story and after the story ends. The author’s beliefs and passions are the foundation of his or her platform; what he or she would write about if they weren’t writers.
  • Martha O’Connor, author of the novel THE BITCH POSSE, uses her platform to raise public awareness about diabetes; her young son was diagnosed with type 1, juvenile diabetes while she was writing the novel.
  • Barry Eisler, author of the John Rain series of thrillers, has a CIA background and writes political views in his blog.
  • Tish Cohen, a self-described agoraphobic in the making, is author of the recently released TOWN HOUSE, a novel about an agoraphobic man’s struggle to live with is phobias. Tish has a “What’s Your Phobia” section on her website.
  • Good Girls Kill For Money Club is a blog written by a group of female mystery authors, reveal the mystery behind other authors with insightful questions and commentary.
  • LitPark, operated by Susan Henderson, former editor of Night Train magazine, and author of the upcoming, TAP ROOT, uses the metaphor of a playground for writers to answer questions of the week, read about upcoming new books and authors, and share personal anecdotes.
  • Ovations, my primary blog, espouses my platform in this log line: An ovation is rousing, prolonged applause. It's a display of public homage or welcome. More than enthusiastic hand-clapping, it's a way of rewarding hard work, showing gratitude, or offering praise. Ovations celebrates the unfinished script of life, where the earth is the stage and people are the stars.

Not only do these blogs promote the author’s platform and books, they can help other authors create an online presence and begin the foundation of their own platform. They invite you to join the conversation by leaving a comment. Your comments are forever logged to the world wide web and searchable to anyone around the globe.

Three Easy Ways to Build Your Platform
  1. Read blogs and comment frequently on your favorites.
  2. Begin your own blog or MySpace.MySpace is the easiest “website/blog in a package.”
  3. When you have something ready to sell, be it a novel, non-fiction proposal or finished manuscript, think about opening a website.

How to, Where to Blog

There are dozens of free blog hosts. If you want to add bells and whistles, such as running polls or surveys, you can pay some blog hosts for upgraded accounts. I host my primary blog at Bloggger, yet I also have a LiveJournal account that is cross linked to my Blogger account. I cross link, so that if I comment on a LiveJournal blog (my agent has a Live Journal blog), it includes my picture and a link back to me.

MySpace is not just for teenagers. It has the biggest tent of talent in the world wide circ us. Here you’ll find pages and pages of authors, news about their books, tours, special offers, and often a blog. I have a MySpace page filled with a wondrous variety of authors, artists, acrobats, and all kinds of people from around the world. These people, some who contacted me and other who’ve sounded interesting enough to me to contact them, are my “friends.” I have 493 friends.

Rather than list the plethora of free source websites and blogs, visit this site and then surf until you catch a site that looks easy or interesting to you.

If you don’t see anything that appeals to you there, just type in your search browser: blog hosts. You’ll get pages and pages of blog sites and offers.

Other Important or Helpful Sites for Writers

I have long been a supporter of Writer’s Digest’s annual survey and publication of its 101 Best Websites for Writers. Surf these links and enjoy the ride.

If you attend my talk, I'd love to hear your comments here. If you're a regular reader of Ovations, you're already blog saavy, but I'd still enjoy hearing from you.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I'm in a write-a-thon

I’ve been asked to participate in a write-a-thon sponsored by Breath & Shadow, an online journal of literature by people with disabilities. The staff has invited their — and the readers’ — favorite writers to write a piece to be published in an upcoming issue of the journal. I’m very excited about this opportunity to write for Breath & Shadow and honored to have been selected to participate. The write-a-thon, as its name suggests, is a fundraiser.

What you may not know about me is that I have a hearing impairment. My hearing loss is the result of nerve damage caused by chronic ear infections as a child and sustained exposure to loud sound (live music, I’m afraid to say). Although I get by just fine with my hearing loss, there is much of the hearing world that I miss. I don’t hear crickets chirp anymore. I can’t hear the buzzer of my coffee pot, my kitchen timer, or many alarm clocks. I set my cellphone to vibrate and wear it on my body.

You know how with walk-a-thons you pledge a certain dollar amount per mile or kilometer? This write-a-thon works the same way. I will be writing a short story of no more than 500 words. If I get at least five people to support me with a pledge, Breath & Shadow will publish my write-a-thon piece. The pledge amount is variable and won’t be collected until after my work is published in the fall. A standard pledge is 2 cents or 5 cents per word for a 500-word piece — which comes out to a $10 or $25 donation. Of course, you can always pledge less (one cent per word) or for more (a dime or a quarter per word). Any amount of support is welcome. Remember, I have a word limit of 500 words.

Breath Shadow is a nonprofit publication; subscriptions are free. It’s the only magazine that prints the writing of people with all kinds of disabilities and is edited and written only by people with disabilities. It’s made a real difference in the life of disabled people to have their work about disability taken seriously and published in a quality journal. The journal is a project of ROSC, a tax-exempt charity. They will be happy to send you a receipt for your donation, if you like.

If you would like to sponsor me, please email me at Carolyn [at] and tell me how much you’re pledging. Also, when my work is published, Breath & Shadow will post the names of the people who sponsored me, so please let me know if it’s okay to post your name or if you’d like to be listed as “anonymous."

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A quiet Mother's Day morning

Awake again in the quiet of this Mother's Day morning. I've had the breakfasts in bed, muffins, eggs, sprigs of flowers in tiny vases, but this morning's peacefulness is the best gift of all. Tank, my canine son, is curled around my legs, while my human son sleeps. Husby worked until two a.m. and will sleep until about nine. My daughter's probably hugging her pillow in her dorm room across the valley and will greet us in church this morning. Life is profoundly good.

If you've read Ovations for a while (at least a year) you may recall this plaque that I created the year after my mother passed away. I run it each Mother's Day. It says everything I feel about Mother's Day. If you can't read the verse, click on the picture and it will open to a larger size.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Tish Cohen at Book Soup

Congratulations to Tish Cohen, seen here signing my copy of her debut novel, TOWN HOUSE. Book Soup, the famous independent bookstore of the stars on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood hosted Tish's book launch last night. Rex Pickett, author of SIDEWAYS, introduced Tish and gave a glowing endorsement.

Before signing, Tish read chapter two of TOWN HOUSE, offering a peek into her hilarious dysfunctional character Jack Madigan, the reclusive son of a famous, dead shock-rock star.

Film rights to TOWN HOUSE have already been sold.