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Jack-of-all-tradebooks November 23, 2009

Posted by Ronica Stromberg in Uncategorized.
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The pace here is kicking into high gear. I am blogging, interviewing, presenting, researching, writing, selling, networking, and even sleeping once in a while. Today’s author is truly a jack-of-all-trades.

Living It Up to Live It Down, the second novel in my newly released series, is up for both the Cybils Award and the Sid Fleischman Humor Award. The publisher Web site, www.rfwp.com,  now lists The Kirsten Hart Series, and both books in the series–A Shadow in the Dark and Living It Up to Live It Down–can be purchased online there. They will also be available soon on other sites.

This morning I interviewed with The Author Show and, later this week, hope to interview with my hometown newspaper in preparation for my visit and book signing in Southeast Iowa over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Next week, I have two school visits and a signing at a Barnes & Noble in Kansas City, Missouri. Then the following Monday I start a new job with the State of Nebraska. This is only part-time temp work, so I expect to continue promotions with a blog tour and other events.

A reviewer told me she thinks my books would be great catalysts for discussion among Christian teens. I have one church youth group that is considering launching a reading group with the books, and I have high hopes for this. I plan to prepare discussion questions for the books and will post them to this site. And I’d like to find other Christian teen reading groups. Any suggestions, anyone?

Advances and Royalties, Part 2 November 18, 2009

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Earlier this year, I blogged about advances and royalties. In part, I mentioned that a New York Times bestselling author, Lynn Viehl, had posted her royalty statement online at http://www.genreality.net/the-reality-of-a-times-bestseller. Lynn has received another royalty statement for that bestselling book and posted it online at http://www.genreality.net/more-on-the-reality-of-a-times-bestseller. The way I understand it, her profits from the book now stand at just under $25,000 after subtracting expenses, taxes, and agent commissions. She said she posted these royalty statements to dispel myths in publishing. Consider the myths dispelled.

Generosity and Competition Among Writers November 16, 2009

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I worked the Nebraska Writers Guild booth at the Nebraska Book Festival on Saturday. I had a great time networking with other writers and selling books. A beginning writer might wonder how festivals and writing organizations like this can work when writers are all in competition with one another. The truth is, we’re not.

I write books for children, primarily teens. I worked the booth with a nonfiction historical author, a poet, an author of a crime novel, and a romance author. We all attracted different customers.

I found another children’s author a few booths down, but she’s published in picture books while I’m published mainly in young adult novels. We discussed promotional opportunities like school visits, and we may collaborate on these because, again, we’re selling to different audiences.

Over the years, I’ve found that the more experienced writers get, generally the more generous they become. Perhaps the reason why is so simple as they’ve realized how little money is involved in this business for most writers. Becoming cutthroat over peanuts is silly.

In some genres, experienced writers even usher in novices, conveying the notion that there’s room for everyone. I’ve found this particularly true in the romance genre. Romance authors are some of the most generous writers I’ve met. This may be true because more than half of the books sold each year are romances. When a genre dominates the market like this, good writers can usually find a place without becoming hypercompetitive.

Beginning writers sometimes see writing organizations as head-to-head competition and fear joining, but I’ve found most writing organizations are fun and supportive.

Synchronicity November 9, 2009

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I sent the first three chapters of my inspirational romance to an editor who requested them and now am digging into that pile of romances I received at last summer’s Romance Writers of America conference.

I’m surprised at how many of “my ideas” I see cropping up in these books. Of course, these romances are already published; mine are still in the works. When I thought of the idea for my inspirational romance, I hadn’t seen any romances in which a dog played a key role. Then Marley and Me hit the shelves (and soon after the movie theaters), and now it seems every publisher has romances with comical animals in them. That’s synchronicity. Many writers writing about the same thing at the same time without realizing they’re far from alone.

Years ago, I wrote a picture book series about a clumsy uncle whose speech made him sound as if he came from the Victorian Era and yet he was always trying to impress his niece and nephew about how hip he was. He ended up in a series of accidents in each book, and each book started with a warning. The first one stated, “Warning: This book is not meant for scaredy-cats.” I sent a proposal for this series all over with no response. A few years later, the Lemony Snicket series came out. This series bore enough resemblance to mine that my series basically became unsaleable.

A new writer hearing this might respond, “They stole your idea!” I doubt it. If I had a contract for every time I submitted a story to a publisher and, a year or two later, they came out with a highly similar story by a different writer, I’d be very well published by now. But I’ve seen synchronicity in action.

In a journalism class I took in college, the teacher assigned students to write a story about a psychological experiment. In the experiment, scientists had people in various vehicles try to get toll collectors to waive the fee for crossing the bridge. The scientists discovered that people in luxury vehicles like limousines had far more success at gaining free passage than less prestigious vehicles. For my hook (or first line of my story), I wrote:

“Money talks.
And when it does, people listen.”

The college instructor collected the stories we had written and redistributed them in the classroom. I received the story of a woman who sat across the classroom from me. The opening lines for our stories matched, yet neither of us had copied off the other. That’s synchronicity.

Beginning writers sometimes worry about joining critique groups because they fear another writer will “steal” their ideas. This could conceivably happen, but it’s more likely that another writer (or two or three or fifty) is already out there working on the same idea.

Recently, I heard that publishers think they’ve identified what the “next big thing” in publishing will be after the current trend of vampire stories dies down: angel stories. I was happy to hear this since I had an angel book, The Time-for-Bed Angel, published in 2008. This time, I may be riding the crest of the synchronicity wave.