Sunday, October 23, 2016

Staying Published

While staying current on the blogs that I follow is not a high priority, I did see something this morning that seems worth repeating from Janet Reid's blog. Janet Reid is a literary agent.
The post is: In one of the comments someone wrote, "It is one thing to get published and another to stay published."
Just like anything else we jump into, looking at the big picture is essential to 'correct' first steps.
Writing is on a spectrum, although some people see it as an end point. While writing itself is satisfying to most of us, beyond that euphoria we need to have a serious conversation with our self about where we want to go with this 'writing stuff.'
Bang away on your laptop with the TV blaring, take writing classes, walk the isles of the bookstore with glazed over eyes, but find a bit of quite time to think of this craft as a business.
The only way to succeed in any business is to do your homework and understand the industry inside and out. Plus, to some extent understanding the ebb and flow of the economy helps build a strong business.
The point is, of course, identify your goals, and then develop a plan on how to achieve those goals.
There is a lot of advice, mine included, on the Internet and in print books. The work is to distill all of that into a working model that fits YOU.
Write your best work and make time to understand the industry. Cheers!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

What We Like

It is a lazy beautiful day in Arizona, USA. The drizzle of the monsoons tap a soothing sound on the patio cover above me as I think about the mystery of Cactus Rain Publishing. A few years ago, a close friend told me that CRP would never work.
It does work. What is the secret? It is hard to say, and it is probably more than one thing that works. We don’t advertise – at all. Maybe we have passed on some mss that we shouldn’t have passed. However, we have done well with those we selected.
I think that Irene Watson nailed it when she wrote about my novels that, “Nadine produces works of social relevance.”
That is also true of the novels we publish.
Of course, we look at writing ability and style. Though, the social message of our books is what speaks to me as I read the submitted manuscripts. For me, it is probably the tipping point.
What does anything matter if we don’t continue to evolve into better people, better societies? Though there are many others who do more and larger than our small voice, I believe we quietly and gently contribute to the betterment of all of those who read our books, without being preachy and forceful.
Our books, and those under contract, speak to critical issues and in the end, good wins over evil in the characters.
Check out what Steve Mwase says in this interview. or here

Friday, September 23, 2016

Banned Book Week

Yes, it is true, there is a special day, week, month for everything and September 25th to October 1st is banned book week.

My friend, writer Jeannine Garsee (Bloomsbury -- buy her books), says that writing a banned book is an excellent way to land on the Best Seller list somewhere -- not her exact words maybe. The real goal is to write a great book, banned or otherwise.

Here are a few of the "subversive books" that have been banned: The Great Gatsby, The Catcher in the Rye; The Grapes of Wrath; The Color Purple; Lolita; Of Mice And Men; Catch 22; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn; The Scarlet Letter; To Kill A Mockingbird; Where The Wild Things Are (yes, that children's book with great artwork -- sheesh); Moby Dick; For Whom The Bell Tolls; and many more.

Remember in 2011, when someone had the idea to make Mark Twain's works politically correct? That is a great way to erase history, so we don't remember and are doomed to repeat it.

There are quite a few discounts on banned books next week. Do a little research and grab one or several of the many banned books.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Scene Break

In the throes of inspiration, it is easy to get caught up in the action and write a 150,000 paragraph. Okay, that isn’t actually likely to happen. However, I have seen some long chapters.  Let’s make this simple. We used to say, “Back at the ranch …”
Think of this: A chapter change occurs when the location, time, people changes. Granted there is some license taken with this. But, start there.
What about scene breaks? I put in scene breaks when the rhythm of the read changes by ONE of the above factors; location, time, person. Think of it like a big comma, the story continues, but there is a signal that there is a change. Whereas, a chapter break is more like a full stop (period) in my analogy.
I’ve said this before, but the absolute best writing book that I have read is a scriptwriting book. The Complete Book of Scriptwriting by J. Michael Straczynski should be in your library. My copy has underlined sections, notes in the margin, and stickies popping out from the edge of the book. The single most important lesson, I think, is the section on camera angles. Get the book. Read it. Thank me later.
For a reliable place to visit for writing tips and lessons check out:
I recently found this program, which I haven’t fully tested, – I’m testing the free version. Let me know if you try it and what you think.

Thursday, July 21, 2016


There is no nice way to say this, so here is the blunt truth — stop using so many ellipses! Seriously, stop it!
Either write what you left out with the ... or use a normal punctuation mark, such as a full stop (UK) also known as a period (USA).
Creative punctuation is distracting to read and if you overuse it, it is plain annoying. (I bet you can tell that I'm reading an ms with this issue, right?)
The last several mss that I've read have a half dozen ellipses per page. Let me tell you what I'm thinking while reading that craziness. I'm thinking that I have to go through and fix that mess.
You can bet that the next ms without ellipses is going to be my favorite, even if it has other issues.
People, I'm over the ellipses. Just stop using them. If you do use them, then use them correctly and sparingly.
Thank you.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Friday, July 8, 2016

Only this...

I hope this link works internationally. Please share.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Great New Website

Joyce finished several weeks of a major overhaul of the Cactus Rain Publishing website. You must see it. The results of her work are awesome!

I love the process each time Joyce and I do this to the website. Wouldn't it be wonderful to simply other aspects of our lives in this way?

Check it out! It is cleaner, simpler, more packed with easily accessed information. Let me know what you think...

Thursday, June 2, 2016

carpe momentum

My close friends know not to expect a once-a-year-gift on their birthday, though sometimes I do deliver. What is important is the daily gift of respect, encouragement, compassion, and love. I do random acts of kindness and, yes, sometimes gift things simple or grand that I see along life's journey.
I have a terrible time reconciling the intent of people who will be awful throughout the year, then give gifts for birthdays or Christmas. I can't help pitying such people because they must be hurting to be so unkind. Pity isn't a gift and I do try to come up with a different emotion, but sometimes one just has to go with what they have.
Some people meditate or practice yoga daily. I practice 'appreciation' of the people around me, and those I've known. Sometimes the simplest act by someone has been life changing for me without their knowing. I'm not embarrassed to tell them how much I appreciate them or what they did, and what it meant to me.
Life is short. I used to have a dance bag that had on it, "Life is not a dress rehearsal." It goes beyond carpe diem. Maybe carpe momentum is a better fit; seize the moment.
When I look back over the journey so far with Cactus Rain Publishing, I think of the people I've met. In this video are some who have passed, but all touched my life profoundly.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Writer or Author?

A quick Internet search of the definition of writer and author shows little distinction between the two words. In terms of writing fiction, there is a distinct difference in my mind between being a writer and an author. I'm not sure where that idea originated. Perhaps it is something that was said years ago in a writing class that took root in my mind and grew from there.
Writers write. It is that simple. It is the creative process. There are many people who seem to be "a natural" at spinning a story. There are some who take it seriously enough to hone their craft by taking writing classes and reading books on writing.
With the advent of the Internet, writing classes on line have become a money making enterprise. Of course, caveat emptor, buyer beware. As most things, the classes are not equally worth the money.
Personally, I'd rather have a book that I can return to as needed. My all-time favorite novel writing book is: The Complete Book of SCRIPTWRITING, by J. Michael Straczynski.
Scriptwriting? For a novelist? Absolutely! And if you read this book, you'll know why I adore it.
So writers write and hone their craft. What's the difference with that and an author? If you have finished a manuscript, you know there is a distinct change in the landscape when you begin to query that book to literary agents and small publishers.
First off, there is a whole new set of rules to learn about the publishing industry. While anyone can pick up a pen and paper and write a manuscript, or even better, grab a digital device and bang out an ms, marketing said ms can be daunting and frustrating.
It is almost a right of passage, in some sense, to traverse from the private world of writing to the public world of publishing. The first time someone rejects that ms, it is different from friends and family wowing over the rough draft that has been shared. Friends and family are supposed to say encouraging things, and most of the time they do.
But when someone in the industry, who is considering putting their money into your ms to publish it, rejects it -- for whatever reason -- it is the beginning of the realization that this industry is serious business, and it is time to step it up, if you want to be part of it.
That right of passage period is where I make the distinction between writer and author. While I know it isn't really a distiction in the industry, it is to me because it should be a mark that you have taken the next step beyond being a casual writer.
There are quite a few books about the industry and I've found most of them discouraging, so I won't list any titles here. However, it is like any other industry, knowledge is power.

Learning how to write a query letter that gets your work considered is the first step to putting your work out for consideration.
A great query letter only goes so far. The synopsis has to be correctly written and good enough to keep the person looking at the next piece of your submission, the sample chapters.
All of this is a learning process and most of the time it does not come as natural as writing. Yet, it is required to transition the work from manuscript to novel.
Finish what you started and dive in this summer to learning the industry as your next step in the process of writing (and getting published) the next Great Americal Novel!