Friday, December 14, 2018

Writing: Christmas Season

One of the first things I heard about writing was that nothing gets done during the two, three, or four weeks around Christmas in the publishing industry. Agent inquiries languish on hard drives, editors don't answer queries, and writers slack off for the holidays. I tried to adjust, as did many others involved in publishing. But that's changed, and one of the changes involves Christmas novels and novellas.

I first became aware of Christmas books through observing what my colleagues were releasing at this time of year. It didn't take long before I put two and two together and decided that having a new book out with a Christmas theme was an opportunity to capitalize on the gift market. Now it's a big thing--both in indie-publishing and from the established publishers.

I wanted to become a part of this trend once I started publishing my work independently, jumping into the Christmas novella scene with Silent Night, Deadly Night. This worked out pretty well, so I decided to publish another novella this year around Christmas, but I couldn't come up with a plot that I liked. Finally, though, I wrote one that took place just before Christmas and featured snow--close enough. And thus, Emergency Case was born. I doubt that it will replace the latest toy as this year's most popular Christmas present, but we'll see.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas to you all. Enjoy the season, but don't forget the reason we celebrate.

Tweet with a single click. "Are Christmas novels and novellas popular at your house?"

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Ready Or Not...

I look at the calendar and do a double take. Surely it can't be two weeks until Christmas. Maybe you're ready, just waiting for the big day. But some of us are not. Around our house, it appears that my wife is, as always, able to pull it all together, but like a duck, the surface may be calm but below the surface is furious paddling.

What's on your to-do list for Christmas? Is it getting out the cards? Our friends who usually send several pages about their past adventures simply sent us a simple photo card this year. Others are sending their Christmas greetings electronically (I just got one from a large publisher), while many simply find the practice too time consuming in the midst of everything else that demands their attention. We used to use these cards to keep up with our friends and relatives. Now we leave that to social media.

Is it the gifts? Have we spent as much on couple A as on couples B and C? Did we remember to get a gift for that person? Did they give us one last year? Is a gift card out because it's too impersonal? If we decide to give one, how much should it be for? Our society has become fixated on gifts, without thinking of the Gift we've all received.

At Christmas we celebrate Jesus' birth. Oh, I know that it probably happened in the summer (let's not get into that right now).  We're celebrating, so take advantage of it. I'm noticing that songs about Santa and snow are replacing traditional Christmas hymns, but they haven't drowned them out completely. In the midst of all this, let me suggest that you stop and consider the reason for the holiday. And thank Him for the best gift of all. I will.


Friday, December 07, 2018

Writing: The "Extras"

As I travel this "road to writing" (an appellation I've chosen to indicate that the writer must continue to learn...and, boy, have I learned), I'm discovering that there's much more to the craft than just putting the right words in the right order to make a book.

I've discovered that it's necessary to keep one's name in front of the general public. One way to do this is via guest blogs and interviews on various sites, always with a giveaway of the latest book the author is touting. Even if you're published by a traditional house, it's often up to the author to arrange these guest appearances. I've added the little "lagniappe" (something extra, if you don't speak Creole) of giving an Amazon gift card to anyone chosen to receive one of these books who has already purchased one. I've already listed the sites where people can go to read these interviews and guest posts and get their name in the drawing for my latest novella, by the way.

Another thing I'm learning is that it's worthwhile to put out an audio version of the novels that come from the author's pen. For me, this involved choosing a narrator, then listening to their work and correcting things like their pronunciation. It's time-consuming, but worthwhile--especially if you have medical terms in the book, as I do. (By the way, if your work comes out via a publisher, they make the decision about putting out an audio version--this entire process may be out of the author's hands).

Last week, I offered a "key" to download my most recent full-length novel, Guarded Prognosis, to five randomly chosen people. The keys have gone out to the winners, and I hope you enjoy listening to the book.

Tweet with a single click. "Some of the 'extras' a writer discovers are necessary."

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Christmas rush

It has sat in the atrium of our house for a few days now, after we found it on sale at a local big box store. It will look great when we finally assemble it, but there's always something that comes up. Meanwhile, people are posting pictures of their decorated living rooms, sharing their Christmas ideas. Unfortunately, sometimes  lost in all the rush is the reason that we celebrate--God's gift to us, the best Christmas present we could ever receive.

I realize that Jesus was probably born in the summer months. I've heard the stories that our current Christmas was moved to coincide with the Roman holiday of Saturnalia. But all that's less important to me than the "reason for the season." And it doesn't matter when we observe the occasion.

So, whether you're all set for the holidays or are still trying to get everything done, don't forget why we celebrate. Whether it's in December or July, it's a wonderful time to stop and reflect on the greatest gift anyone could receive.