Thursday, January 7, 2016

A Typical Traditional Book Publication in 20 (ish) Steps

1) You write a book, you rewrite the book, you polish the book and make it the best you can write.

2) You query agents. Agents take several months to respond to your query. After some time, (could be anywhere from a few weeks, to months, to a year or more), you finally query the right agent and the agent offers to represent you and your manuscript. OR, no agents offer representation and if that is the case, return to Step 1 and write another book.
If you are offered representation, proceed to Step 3.

3) You and the agent MAY or MAY NOT decide to rewrite and/or re-polish the book before submitting it to editors at publication houses. Don't take too long in doing this. The agent signed you and your book and wants to sell it, don't make them wait too long or the marketplace might shift.

4) Your agent submits a letter to editors at publication houses pitching your book. Editors will take days, weeks, months, to a year (or never) to request to see a copy of the book - either a partial submission [the first 50 pages or so], or a full submission [the whole thing]. IF no editors request a copy of your manuscript, return to Step 1 and write another book, then skip to Step 3 (if your agent feels your next book is ready for submission).

5) You and your agent wait for the editor to read your book. This can take days, weeks, months (most typical), a year (or more), or you may NEVER hear back from the editor (which means No). This is a good time to go back to Step 1 and write another book.

6) If all the editors your agent has submitted to either don't request a copy, or pass on the submitted book, and your agent feels that all editor options are exhausted, then return to Step 1 and write a new book.

7) If an editor responds positively to your book, two things can happen:
    A) The editor requests a 'Rewrite and Resubmit' based off their editorial suggestions. This means you will go back and rewrite the book to this editor's specifications without pay. There is no guarantee that the editor will then buy the book and publish it, but it is also a good opportunity to garner good will and prove that you can take and implement editorial notes in a timely manner (editors like this), and also, there's a chance (if they don't buy it), you can use this improved draft to submit to more publishers. In my experience, a 'Rewrite and Resubmit' (commonly called an 'R&R') only serves to make you a better writer. UNLESS, the editor is asking you to change the entire premise of the book, or is asking for the impossible, in which case, you should have your agent politely decline the request.
    B) The editor has responded positively and wants to publish your book.

What Happens Next:

8)  Your agent will contact all the other editors who requested a copy of your book and let them know you have an offer. The other editors will be given a deadline (usually a week or two) to also make an offer, or bow out. If multiple editors makes an offer, your book will be put up 'for auction' and your agent will pit publication house against publication house to get you the best deal.
This is why you have an agent.
If no other publication houses makes a counter offer, you proceed toward contract negotiation.

9) Once your agent finds you the best publication deal they will then negotiate the terms of your publishing contract with the "winning" house. The terms may or may not include an advance (for a first time author, it can range from $250 to $10,000, or so) and the conditions of the publication (e-book only, print-on-demand paperback (only available through Amazon), trade or mass market paperback (on websites and in stores), or hard cover (available everywhere). The contract will also determine who retains the film and TV rights, the percentages of your royalties should you sell enough copies and earn out your advance money, and what would happen to the publication rights after a certain amount of time, and if you fail to sell enough copies to earn out your advance.
This is also why you have an agent.
The negotiation process can take weeks, months, up to a year. Typically, a publication house has up to 18 months to finalize the deal or you have the right to pull the book and sell it someplace else.
If terms are agreed upon, the publication house sends the final contract to your agent, who then proof-reads it, and sends it to you for your signature.

10) Once the contract is signed, and all parties agree to do so, you may then announce your publication deal to the public. At no point during submission, or negotiations, is anyone outside your trusted immediate family to hear of your impending book deal. This is for your safety (what if the deal falls through during negotiations? How embarrassing!) as well as for your protection should another publishing house hear of the deal and run off and buy a book similar to yours to beat you to the marketplace (tsk, tsk, tsk). So KEEP QUIET. Once the contract is signed and received by the publisher, your advance check, (if applicable) will arrive in the mail a few days to weeks later. You will pop champagne and feel like you've arrived. But before you quit your day job, you might want to slow down and keep reading.

11) Once the deal is finalized and public, your editor will then send you an editorial letter requesting changes to your manuscript. The editors can take days, weeks, and sometimes months to send you this letter. If they take too long, have your agent "nudge" and request the letter as soon as possible. Editorial notes can be very few, to drastic enough you wonder why the editor bought the book at all. Contractually, you (usually) have two weeks to two months to complete these changes.

12) If the editorial changes you made are accepted by the editor (sometimes a draft can be passed back and forth from the editor to the writer, two, three, four times (!) depending on the severity).
[Side Note: You will be working WITH the editor to rewrite and re-polish the book, technically, you don't have to change anything they suggest - although, I would pick my battles very very carefully].

Then the book will be sent to a Copy Editor, who will mark and correct every punctuation, spelling, grammar, continuity, and minuscule mistake you made in the book. You have the option to accept these changes, or reject them. Again, I remind you to pick your battles.

This is a fine line: you don't want to be considered "difficult to work with" but you also don't want to roll over and change things in your book that you don't fully agree with. In the end, when the book is published, if it does poorly, YOU take the full blame. Nobody will be bashing your editor in the reviews - that'll be YOU. So be sure you agree with the changes before you redo your whole book.

13) After copy edits are accepted and approved by your editor the book goes to the presses, and you wait until launch date. Depending on the publisher and your deal, they may assign you a publicist to help you hype the book before it hits stands.

14) After a few months of hearing nothing you will receive a copy of your book cover. This is mostly a courtesy. The publisher (and Barnes and Noble, if you can believe it) will decide what your book cover looks like. You have little to NO SAY about anything [Edited to Add: Unless your agent negotiated a cover VETO clause into your contract [recommended]] , and if you hate the cover with an undying passion, the publisher is under no obligation to change it to please you. Keep in mind, however, that the sales team at your publishing house and Barnes and Noble know what kinds of covers sell better than others, so it would be wise to listen to their advice.

15) If your publisher chooses, they can submit your book to Kirkus, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and all sorts of publications and request reviews. These reviews are tough, and sometimes brutal. Be thrilled if you get a good one, because those are hard to come by and could help your book sales. If you get panned in the reviews please don't lose heart: plenty of books that the critics HATED ended up as best sellers.

16) Your publisher also might request you contact any and all of your author friends and request they write a 'blurb.' This is a paragraph describing how this other (hopefully famous) author loved your book. These quotes can come in handy to raise awareness for your book, but as I said above, if you don't get any blurbs from a plethora of famous authors, it's not going to kill you - but it might sting a bit.

17) The book launches. Launching a book is a bit like playing darts in the dark. You aim the best you can, you throw as straight as you are able, but whether or not your book does well? Well, that's luck.

After the book launches, and if there is no second or third book attached to the publication of the book, your contact with the publisher and editor ends (mostly). The publisher will send you paperwork showing your sales numbers and also a check (usually twice a year) if you've sold enough to earn past the amount you were advanced.

The publicist may or may not contact you with book events and scheduled appearances (if you are a first time author, this is unlikely and I recommend you take care of this yourself).

18) Congratulations! You've traditionally published a book. Please refer back to Step 1 and start all over.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

OFFICIAL Press Release

Hey Everybody!

The official press release announcing the Extinction Biome: Invasion project can be found here on the Horror Underground website.

 Here's the link >>

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Extinction Biome Purchase Links


I am so very pleased to announce my involvement in Abaddon Book's EXTINCTION BIOME series!

Together with a co-author we've crafted the first book under an accumulative pen name, Addison Gunn, for this new hard military science fiction series which will release in monthly ebook novellas starting in February, then in a full paperback edition this June!

It's been an absolute BLAST to work with Abaddon on this exciting project - it has everything I love in a good sci-fi - explosions, conspiracies, plentiful battles and perilous situations, and creepy, deadly creatures...What more could you ask for? 



A thrilling new military SF series.

Four years in the military, training for a war that never happened, left Alexander Miller disillusioned and apathetic. Now, as second in command of COBALT, a corporate bodyguard unit for the biotech giant Schaeffer-Yeager, he’s little more than a glorified chauffeur to the wealthy elite. But times change.

A threat from the ancient past has reawakened, and like a Biblical plague it threatens to consume every ecosystem on Earth. Hordes of parasite-infected humans riot against the increasingly powerless authorities as vast fungal blooms destroy crops and terrifying beasts stalk city streets.

The last time this happened, T-Rex found itself on the menu. But mankind's got more than teeth – it's got guns. Miller and the men and women of COBALT are pressed into service to fight the onslaught, but they have no idea how cut-throat their corporate masters can be...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Why Writers Should NOT Pre-Announce a Publishing Deal

Ok, I've got a confession to make.

A writing acquaintance of mine announced in a major trade publication that s/he was "working with" a specialized imprint of a major publishing house (who's name I am keeping to myself) on a book.

My first thought was initially, "YAY! Good for him/her!"

And then MONTHS went by and by happenstance, I thought, "Gee, I wonder when his/her book will release? I'd forgotten the release date listed in the trade mag."

So, I Googled the trade mag article (which came out this last spring) and there wasn't a publication date for the book in it. So, I checked Publisher's Marketplace, and there wasn't any record of the deal there either.


Now I've got my dander up.
So, I check the writer's agent's deals and the sale is not listed, and technically, neither is the writer even listed as the agent's client (which is actually not unusual, because agents and clients play musical chairs all the time and it's hard for the mags to keep up).

But, by now I'm totally confused.

As any traditionally published author will tell you: agents and publishers always warn the author not to announce any book deals until the contracts are executed, and the contracts (FYI), can take weeks, nay, sometimes MONTHS to fully execute - especially when there's a major publishing house involved who tend to have more bureaucracy than the smaller presses.

They always make the writers promise not to breathe a word until then, and the writers always cringe and cry and tell their best writer buddies under the blanket of top secrecy, and we wail, "Why? Why do they torture us by making us hold onto such WONDERFUL news?"

Ladies and gentlemen, THIS IS WHY.

The reason is because if word gets out, people will want to know specifics (like a release date), and if there is no record of the book deal anywhere - then YOU look bad (like you made it up or blabbed too soon) and that's bad, bad, bad for your career.

Like, no. Just don't do that.

So, remember, my writerly buddies, all those times I whined and complained about having to keep quiet about publishing deals for so long?



Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Dad was born in Denver Colorado in 1945. His father, an upholsterer by trade, had not served during World War Two because of a childhood injury that had left his arm bent. Dad's mother was a sales clerk at a yarn store in town.

Bobby, as Dad was called in his youth, was full of the dickens from a very early age. A tinkerer by nature, he would disassemble and reassemble every appliance in the house multiple times. He rigged his bedroom light to extinguish anytime someone laid on the bed, and he stock piled cables, cords, wires, circuit boards, and anything else he deemed interesting, stacking them in his closet so compactly his mother gave up trying to clean his room and left it a disaster.

At one point he had rigged an electric megaphone onto the front of his house and would heckle the neighbors and any cars that drove by - until the cops showed up at the front door asking him to stop. On several occasions, he hacked into the street's telephone wires and listened into the "Party Line" until a representative from the phone company came to their door.

Bobby was also a musician. He took accordion and piano lessons and was a natural performer. An extrovert at heart, Bobby loved to make people laugh. His favorite accordion song was "Lady of Spain" which involved him shaking the entire instrument against his chest in dramatic flair, all to give the illusion of vibrato.

At eighteen years old, Bobby (now Bob) was accepted into the electrical engineering program at the Colorado School of Mines, but as fate would have it, destiny had other plans.

Following a severe car accident, Bob was left with two broken legs, among other injuries, and his knees, which were already malformed and uncooperative, were now broken and bolted together with screws. Months of physical therapy and surgeries followed, and strapped by medical bills and lost hopes, Bob never attended the School of Mines, but instead, accepted a job demonstrating and selling electric organs at a local music store - putting to use his showmanship and charm.

At nineteen years old, a mutual friend introduced him to girl, a shy violinist who saw the moon and the stars in his gregarious charms, and Bob went home after the first date and told his mother he'd met the girl he was going to marry - and he was right.

Three months later, both a twenty years old, Bob married Donna. Donna was a book keeper at their neighborhood church, and an accomplished violinist who eventually taught lessons at the local music store.

They moved into a small apartment in Denver, where eventually Bob landed a job with NCR, repairing electric cash registers. After three years of marriage their first child was born, a daughter, Wendy.

More children followed. A boy, Allan, and two more daughters, Lorianne and Erin.

After repairing cash registers for several years, Bob moved the family to Ohio, where he taught classes for NCR technicians. He then accepted various positions in the technology profession, moving the family to Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California - each place bringing him further along the professional chain until he was head of customer service at an accounting software company.

When Bob retired, he and Donna moved to Washington State.

Ever true to himself, Bob remained a tinkerer his whole life. His houses were always equipped with a secret garage door opener so his kids could come and go throughout the day without assistance or keys. He rigged his mailbox with a motion-censored chime which rang indoors when the mail arrived. All his yard sprinkler systems were mechanized and timed. He was ready to accept any phone call from any of his grown kids, and friends, should they need advice on how to fix something.

He was quick with a joke, fast with a bottle of Scotch, and always willing to lend a helping hand, even when it was a detriment to himself.

He devoted hours of free time in service to his church. In his lifetime he'd served on almost every committee in the Presbyterian Church. From Finance, Property and Maintenance, Sunday School, fundraisers, plays, Session, Pastoral nominating committees - you name it, Bob served on it.

At his last church in Washington State, Bob served as Chairman in charge of the church's RV park and campground - fixing every leaky faucet, burnt and broken light fixture - to spearheading the permits and supervising the construction of a pavilion for the picnic area. It was his dream job, quite honestly.

At the end of August, 2015, at 70 years old, Bob was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer and passed away four weeks later, surrounded by his family.

I know somewhere out in the ether Dad's sitting at a campfire, drinking Scotch, and cracking jokes.

I was lucky to have him as my father.
He'll be missed.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

How I Got My Kids to Respect My Writing Time During the Summer

First off, just because something worked for me and my kids, I cannot guarantee that it will work for you and yours. So here's my disclaimer right off the bat.

I have been writing at home, and the primary caregiver to two daughters, for almost fifteen years now. For several years while the girls were babies, I didn't write at all. And then when I started writing again, I only did it during their naptime. Starting when my youngest child's was the age of 4, and naptime went away, I implemented certain "rules" for the kids so that I could write successfully while they were home (ie. without a ridiculous amount of interruptions).

Rule #1: Don't talk to me if I'm typing

When the girls were young, I'd fail at parenting 101, and use the TV as a babysitter. They were allowed to watch one movie a day. At the time, I didn't allow TV shows because I thought commercials were evil (don't laugh, they kinda are, but at least now my kids are old enough to realize when they are being marketed to). But now there's Netflix, so commercials aren't as pervasive as they used to be. Anyway, during that one movie a day, I would write.

I would sit in an adjacent room and wear headphones and listen to classical music, and the "rule" was, they could come in and ask me a question, or talk to me about the movie, or whatever, as long as they waited for my fingers to stop moving.

If I was typing, they had to wait.

I know a lot of you are thinking, "That's impossible! How can a preschooler possibly wait for anything?"

Believe me, this rule didn't work immediately, but I stubbornly stuck to it. I would make them wait until the sentence was finished. Sometimes, if they forgot, I would make them wait until the end of the paragraph. And I wouldn't do what they interrupted me to ask for if they interrupted for something they could do on their own, or for tattling.

Besides which, it's honestly good for your kid to learn patience, and respect you at the same time, and this achieves both.

After years of this rule, my now teenaged daughters are conditioned to wait until my fingers stop typing. Although an occasional reminder is always necessary.

Hopefully, this rule can work for you, too.

Rule #2: Don't burst into my office (or writing space, etc.)

I write horror. When I'm writing at home alone, I don't use headphones. If the dog barks at the front door, or the cat knocks something to the floor (the jerk), it can scare the crap out of me.

When the kids are home, and I sit in my office, wearing sound-cancelling headphones (only now I listen to white noise instead of classical music), and they wait for me to stop typing, I can't hear them when they eventually speak.

If they walk into my office without warning, I've been known to scream - and then I scream AT THEM. If they touch me on the shoulder...Well, one time on reflex, I elbowed my daughter in the stomach.

Nobody wins if I'm spooked. Nobody.

"New Rule!" I announced to both of them. "Flick the light switch to get my attention."

This has worked wonders, I must say.

Now, they wait for me to stop typing and flick the light switch in my office and then I look up and there they are in the doorway, waiting to interrupt me.

It's quite magical when they actually remember to do this.
When they don't, well, it's not pretty.

Rule #3: Don't read over my shoulder

This rule is especially important if you write horror, or erotica.

Once the girls learned to read it got increasingly difficult to keep their prying eyes away from what I was typing while they waited for my fingers to stop moving.

One time I wrote the work 'fuck' in a sentence and didn't realize my daughter was behind me. She gasped so loudly I nearly fell out of my seat. She then proceeded to "tattle" on me that night to my husband, who thought it was hilarious.

If you don't want your kids to read sex scenes and bad language, and you write sex scenes and your characters use bad language, then this can get tricky, especially since my desk doesn't face the door and my kids are behind me when they enter.

There is no true solution to this other than to remind them to 'mind their own business,' and that reading over somebody's shoulder is rude. You wouldn't read over a stranger's shoulder on the subway, why would you let your kids do it to you?

Mild punishments can be implemented when kids break this rule. For me, it was loss of electronic time. Enforce this on every infraction, and eventually, they'll either get better at sneaking around and reading over your shoulder, or they'll give up.

Either way, it's better for you.

Since implementing these three rules, writing from home (particularly during the summer when they are home more often), is still not ideal, but at least it's not impossible.

Hopefully, these rules can help you, too.
I wish you the best of luck!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Middle School Girl Shaming

There is a growing trend in the schools of America which I find troubling…Actually, there are quite a few, but for the sake of this post I'm going to concentrate on just one:


My two Middle School daughters attend a public school in the Valley of the Los Angeles area.
For those of you unfamiliar with the geography of LA, the "Valley" is just over the hill from the coastal city area, sandwiched between the San Fernando mountains. This valley is known for a warmer, almost desert-like climate, similar to Arizona with less dust storms and monsoons.

During the summer months (May through September), where the city area of LA gets temperatures of over 100 degrees maybe one or two weeks out of the entire season, the valley spends the majority of the time around that temp. 80 degrees is a cool summer day. Anything over 100, and residents of the valley will still have outdoor soccer games and gym class. It's not until we hit 105 and above that we start to pull back.

During the winter, the valley lives in the 60s and 70s, sometimes 80s, and my daughters spend their time YEAR ROUND wearing tee shirts and shorts. In fact, when we took a trip to visit family back East, I had to go on a special shopping trip, looking in stores all over in an attempt to find long sleeved shirts that weren't paper thin.

I'm not giving you a lesson on Los Angeles weather for no reason. The purpose for this rant is to address the public school's DRESS CODE, which violates children (well, mostly the girls, really) for wearing shorts that are considered too short [Stand with your arms at your sides - if your thumbs are lower than your shorts, you would be dress-coded - ie. sent to change into your gym shorts (black knee-length basketball shorts] or a parent would have to bring you a change of clothes, or you will be sent home]. Girls will also be dress coded for wearing tank tops with spaghetti straps (because, apparently seeing a bra is indecent), and also, there are hair restrictions as well.

That's right. The school has a say over how the kids get to wear their hair. For boys, there are no mohawks. For girls, there cannot be any dyed hair of an "unnatural color," and they are not allowed to have hair of two different colors.

Yep. You read that right, too. You can't have hair with two different colors.

Now, for me, that would be a massive problem because my hair is naturally TWO COLORS. I have brown hair that streaks blond on the top (thank you Valley for my free highlights), but I'm not in school so it doesn't really matter. What my daughter's school is apparently doing, however, is basically dress coding any girl who wears hair extensions different than the color of their natural hair.

Because hair of two different colors is "distracting."

I'm not even kidding.

Also, according to their standards, girls bra straps and thighs are distracting.

Now, if a BOY has frosted tips (which is all the rage out here in the valley), he doesn't get dress-coded - but girls DO.

Don't believe me?

Meet Jenny* [*name has been changed to protect the girl's privacy].
Jenny's in Middle School with my daughters and her mom is a hair dresser. Jenny loves to play with her hair color.

Jenny first came to school with purple hair - of which she got dress coded, so she dyed it black.
Then, for fun, Jenny dyed the tips of her black hair green - and she got dress coded.
Then Jenny dyed her hair all black again, and began wearing a clip-on blond hair extension.
And she got dress-coded - AGAIN, and AGAIN, and AGAIN.

Now, some of you more conservative parents might think - FOR THE LOVE OF PETE - just take out the hair extension and she'll stop getting in trouble at school. But Jenny and her mom feel differently.

They think (and I agree) that the dress code is sexist and ridiculous and 'No, Jenny should not have to change her hair because some arbitrary district rule states that hair of two colors distracts from the learning experience.'

You know what distracts from the learning experience? Getting in trouble for something as stupid as two-toned hair.

…Or for wearing shorts on a hot day.

…Or for wearing a spaghetti strap tank top when it's 100 degrees in March.

With so many issues with today's public education system (HELLO - I haven't even mentioned switching to Common Core IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SCHOOL YEAR -- oops, guess I just did) --
I fail to see how dress-coding girls in this way accomplishes anything but making them think that being hot and wearing the appropriate clothing for the climate is something to be ashamed of, and somehow MORE IMPORTANT THAN THEIR EDUCATION.

Look, I get it, if I see butt-cheek I tell my daughters they've outgrown their shorts and to go change, and I'm not really supportive of boys sagging their pants and showing everybody and the world their boxers - but in the grand scheme of life, what's more important? Their grades? Or their wardrobe?

Well, apparently in my school district, shaming girls is important.
Double standards, those are important, too.
Exercising control on how you raise your kids, ie. what they wear - that's "important."

By making a girl's wardrobe an issue, the school district is making it an issue!

Nobody cares but you. Seriously.

And if the district sticks by their assessment that a girl's bra strap is too distracting for the boys - to this I say >>


Never once has a Middle School boy, EVER, made any comment WHATSOEVER to either one of my daughters about how their wardrobe is "distracting."
In fact, the whole time I went to school, a boy never once said that to me either.

YOU, the DISTRICT, are CREATING the distraction.

And if it really, and truly is "distracting" for Middle School boys to see a girl's thigh - THEN HOW ABOUT WE TEACH THE BOYS TO STOP HARASSING THE GIRLS!

You are shaming the girls when they haven't even done anything wrong.

So, to this I say >>>

You wear that two-tone hair and I hope you grow up to question stupid authority every chance you get.

Okay, rant over.


P.S. And I haven't even mentioned how they aren't allowed to wear ball caps with any other emblem but the school logo - because yeah, there's SUCH a gang problem in the suburbs. o.O
Oops - guess I just mentioned it.