Friday, March 29, 2013

Happy Friday!

Just a few links to share today:

If you have a finished manuscript, you can post a twitter-length pitch TODAY using the tag #pitmad for Pitch Madness. This is hosted by Brenda Drake's blog, but anyone can participate.
(P.S. I received a full MS request from an agent during a similar twitter pitch campaign last fall!)

The Miss Snark blog has a 5 year anniversary celebration going on with some unique interactive challenges! Create a fake logline/pitch and win query and first page critiques from Miss Snark success story authors (like me! I found my agent through her Baker's Dozen contest).  Check it out. And to get a flavor of what this blog does, see this week's previous entries for the montly Secret Agent contest. Writers submitted their first 250 words for online critique and possible page requests from the secret agent.

Get in on Forever Young Adult's Teen Movie Madness bracket voting. Will Ferris Buheler rule them all?

Yesterday word got out that Amazon bought Goodreads. Yeah. We really shouldn't be surprised, but still. I'll be sad if the review community loses its integrity and constant Amazon spam takes over.

Romance author Brenda Novak's online auction for diabetes research is coming up in May, but you can scope out all the reader and writerly auction items now.

Lastly, Monday starts the Blogging from A to Z challenge! Hundreds of bloggers are creating a post for every letter of the alphabet during April. This event is HUGE. This year the blogs are noted with categories, so you can check if it's a book blog, writing blog, cooking, travel, etc. Lots of fun to visit a couple new blogs each day. I'll be participating with the theme: Influential Women Authors.

Happy Friday everyone, and enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Romance Writers announce 2013 RITA and Golden Heart Finalists

image: Wiggy! at Wikimedia commons
I've emerged from my writing cave, having finished (this round) of edits, and now I can turn some attention back to the blog!

Today Romance Writers of America announced their annual contest nominees for the Rita award for published romance, and the Golden Heart for unpublished manuscripts.

Click here for a full list of winners.

Or here for a list with covers, courtesy of RT Book Reviews!

The categories for the awards include contemporary, historical, young adult, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, and for the Rita, the last year for a novel with romantic elements.

I was excited to see some familiar names on the list year, having familiarized myself more with the genre after joining RWA last year. Two writers from my Windy City RWA chapter finaled in the Golden Heart (Sonali Dev for Bollywood Bad Boy, and India Powers for Demon's Bane). A writer from the Chicago North chapter is a finalist for the Young Adult category: Erika O'Rourke for Bound, part of a cool trilogy I've become a fan of.

For the Rita Young Adult category, I am so thrilled to see Huntley Fitzpatrick's My Life Next Door, which I reviewed here. (And I loooooved it). As well as Katie McGurty's Pushing the Limits, which caught a lot of attention last year. The fourth entry for YA I hadn't heard of: The Farm by Emily McKay. The Goodreads description makes it seem straight up dystopian without much mention of a romance, but I'm guessing it's there.

Now I'm off to update my reading list with some Rita nominees...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Predatory Publishing Contracts

If you're a writer, you may have seen the internet heat up this past week over issues taken up with a few Random House e-book imprints which several high-profile writing organizations called foul. The best, and most heroic example goes to science fiction writer John Scalzi, one of my husband's favorite authors. See his blog post here for how he dealt directly with Random House and their contracts, representing the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He represented many of us as well, whether we knew it or not.

The issue? The publishing contracts for Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, and Flirt, each representing different genre fiction, were so limiting to authors, it is downright insulting that they came from a big-name NYC publishing house. Now, I'm no expert in contracts, but when I see a written agreement that includes no advance payment to the author, a 50/50 split of royalties AFTER a muddled clause about subtracting fees for costs that may or may not include promotion, marketing, set-up fees, and even printing fees, with lifetime ownership of the copyright, I think SCAM. If you are curious on details, please read Scalzi's blog post because it's fantastic. His outrage gave me chills!

Basically, what is the point of signing a contract with all these stipulations when so many legitimate avenues for self-publishing exist? It's the Random House "x" imprint name. That's it. You are paying--and paying dearly--for the name, but you aren't getting the same level of services a more legit Random House contract offers. This is the sad-sack, gather-in-the-soup-line, stale bread hand-out version of a real publishing contract. And authors deserve better.

Why this is so concerning is how many people might see the Random House name attached to the imprint and assume the contract is fair. From my limited experience in this industry, one thing I know solidly: a LOT of people want to see their book published, to the point they will take desperate, or ignorant actions. Of course,  if you heard someone say "pay me $10,000 and I'll publish your book," you would run, right? RIGHT? A Big NYC publisher putting out such junk as bait for over-eager writers is simply wrong.

Random House has since amended the contracts, which is a partial victory for writers given that making noise can spark change. But, the contract still doesn't seem awesome, and you have to wonder what other slop publishing houses will push on unsavvy writers going forward.

I'm so grateful to my RWA chapter for linking Scalzi's blog post in our yahoo group, and days later, Romance Writers of America contacted Random House to discuss the contracts (Loveswept and Flirt) to better inform the authors they represent. All this to say, know what you are signing, and align yourself with professionals who know the industry.

What do you think about this situation?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Streaming Entertainment: How Do You Watch TV & Movies?

Photo: Bryan Gosline via Flickr
It's easier than ever to watch TV and movies given how many different devices can stream entertainment. It sounds like Redbox is joining the movie streaming business. Here's a write up on how Netflix, Amazon and Redbox compare via

I just bought a Nook tablet, mainly for reading, but it connects to the internet so I can use it to stream movies and TV on Netflix, Hulu or whatever else. It's a bigger screen than my smartphone (which I could also stream movies and TV from), and kind of a cool option to have. My household has subscribed to Netflix since 2005, and it's definitely come a long way from just getting DVDs in the mail (although it's still fun to get the little red envelope among all the bills...especially if you've forgotten which movie is next in the queue).

We watch a lot of the streaming content through our X-Box, to the point that we don't go out to see movies in the threatre much anymore. I have to really want to see it on the big screen to get me out of my cozy house with a zillion entertainment options. The quality of TV shows is so excellent now; watching a series like Breaking Bad or Justified or even Vampire Diaries (for its delicious fun and crazy-fast plots) is just as entertaining as going out to a movie.

How about you? Do you use any movie or TV streaming service? Which do you like best? Do you find that you watch things on portable devices, or do you prefer to sit and watch from a standard TV?