Should you publish with a small publisher?

Every once in a while I give writing advice on my blog. Someone asked me if they should publish with a certain publisher. Here are my thoughts on the subject.

Smaller publishers come and go every year, and some stick around for decades (and some go out of business quickly and don’t ever pay their authors royalties.) The questions you need to ask before choosing any publisher are:

1) How much do they pay in advances? Specifically, how much will they pay you? If they don’t pay anything, avoid them. If they pay under 10k, consider them carefully. Generally, if a publisher doesn’t pay much of an advance, they won’t do a lot to market your book. If they don’t market it, it won’t sell well and bookstores might not even carry it.

If you’re unsure about a publisher or agent, you can get a trial subscription to Publishers Weekly and check to see their recent deals.

(The exception to this rule may be Kindle Scout. They pay 1,500 advances but you have Amazon’s expertise helping to sell your book, so the lower advance may be worth it.)

2) What is their marketing plan? Are they well connected to bookstores? Do their reps go to conferences and give out ARCs? How many ARCS will they be distributing?

3) What is their contract like? Make sure you have either an agent or a literary lawyer look over it and see if the publisher is grabbing rights they shouldn’t. Some contracts are so bad that they will literally enslave an author’s career. You want to make sure you can get your rights back after a few years when the print book is no longer selling. (Ebooks and print-on-demand copies shouldn’t constitute the book being in print.) The publisher shouldn’t ask for more than first rights of refusal on your next book in the same genre. You also want to make sure you can self-publish anything you want. There’s a lot more to look for in contracts, which again is why you need a professional to read it over.

4) Look at the list of books they’ve published and contact some of the authors. Ask them about their experience and if they’re happy with the publisher. I published one book with a small publisher and it was a disaster, but that doesn’t mean all small publishers are bad.

Good luck!

Back to work on Slayers 4 (Into the Firestorm)

Perhaps by the time I’m finished with the book, I will remember that firestorm is one word. Although you probably shouldn’t hold your breath. I’ve written multiple books that involve either the Renaissance or renaissance festivals and I still spell the word wrong. Every. Single. Time.

Thank goodness for spellcheck.

Anyway, I am working on Slayers 4 again. I’m having a hard time getting excited about the book because I want to be already done with this series and it still needs so much work, and oh yeah, the climax and ending. It still needs that.

And–this is why I shouldn’t write series–I know at some point soon, I’m going to have to go back and reread all three books to make sure I’m not inadvertently changing facts and details.

I’ve said since book two that I was going to write two endings, one where she ends up with Jesse and one where she ends up with Dirk so that both camps will be happy. Oddly, even though the (super) rough draft is written up until the climax, I’m still not sure which version I’m writing now. I guess we’ll all be surprised…


Podcast launch–book giveaways!

Hey, I’ve started podcasting with writer friends Randy Lindsay, Brock Booher (and eventually  Aaron Blaylock) about all things writing. I’ve got one podcast playing right now as I write this and I’m cringing at my voice. I know, I know, most people don’t like the way their voice sounds, but… sigh… Ok, here’s the thing: as some of you know, my mother got cancer when I was two, was sick for four years, and died when I was six. My Dad remarried when I was ten. But during my formative years, instead of hearing my mother’s lovely soprano voice, I mostly heard my father’s deep voice. I had a music teacher explain to me once that when this happens to girls they very often speak in a lower tone than they normally would.

I don’t think about this fact until I hear my voice on a recording and then I always think, why do I sound like that? Ahh! So, in future podcasts, I’m going to try and remember to sound lilting and not like I’m trying to impersonate a man.

But enough about my voice.

There are four 15-minute podcasts. I’m giving away a book per podcast to one of the commenters. (Chosen by Also Randy Lindsay will be also giving away copies of one of his books as well as Ryan Hancock’s Uncommon Blue. (Ryan is also our friend, and some of you may know him as Darth Beta because he rips my stuff apart when he beta reads it.)

Here’s the link: Ready, Set, Write!

Books you can choose from are: My  Fair Godmother, My Unfair Godmother, How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-boyfriend, My Double Life, It’s a Mall World After All, Just One Wish, Slayers, Slayers: Friends and Traitors, Erasing Time, Revenge of the Cheerleaders, Life, Love and the Pursuit of Free Throws, or Fame, Glory, and Other Things On My To-do List (Or Echo in Time if you’re willing to wait. I have it on order but don’t have it yet.


Preventing Hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness)

This post has nothing to do with books. I’m writing it just in case there are women out there googling information on hyperemesis gravidarum–which is literally killer morning sickness. Back before the invention of IVs, women died from this. I nearly died from it, and I had a feeding tube implanted in my arm for months. If you throw up several times an hour for months on end you can rupture your esophagus and die. When I started throwing up blood, it always became a concern.

Hyperemesis gravidarum was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through in my life. Throwing up that much was awful. At first I judged what I ate by how it would feel when I threw it up. Milk was the worst because it curdles in your stomach. For the first month or so of morning sickness, I would try to eat because I knew it was necessary to keep me and the baby alive, but my attempts to put food in my stomach didn’t matter. Nothing stayed down. Then I gave up on eating. You have no appetite when you’re extremely nauseous. This didn’t keep me from throwing up, by the way. Even with no food in my stomach, I still threw up stomach bile.

Once while I was throwing up my lungs stopped working. (The doctor said it was probably my diaphragm.) Those were some scary moments. I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t speak, and had no way to tell my husband who was sleeping in the other room that I was in trouble. (It was in the middle of the night, because yes, I would even wake up in the middle of the night and throw up.) I banged on the toilet to try and wake him up and alert him that I was having a problem. He slept through my banging, though. He can sleep through anything.

Luckily my lungs started working again and I was able to stagger back to the bed.

When my morning sickness got really bad I would pass out when I sat up. I was hospitalized, but they couldn’t really do anything except for IV’s to keep me alive. The anti nausea drugs didn’t work. (Although vicodin shots did help somewhat. I couldn’t keep pills down, but vicodin shots probably kept me alive.) And with my first three pregnancies, the morning sickness lasted longer each time. When I was pregnant with the twins it lasted for five months.

And the worst part of it was the pain. Severe nausea causes pain, constant pain. The only time I wasn’t in pain was for a couple of seconds when I was transitioning from sleep to wakefulness. I always hoped for those seconds that the pain wouldn’t come back, but it always did–full force.

Part of the problem with having extreme morning sickness is that very few people understand what you’re going through. A lot of women have a little morning sickness and then think you’re a really big wimp because you don’t just tough it out and get on with your life like they did. This is like thinking diabetics are wimps for not being able to eat sugar. Our bodies are different.

I blame Freud in part for this attitude about morning sickness. He was the one who decided that it was all in women’s heads. Somehow that belief lingers in the public conscious. This is why I personally hate Freud and hope that God reincarnates him as a pregnant woman with hyperemesis gravidarum.

Freud did say one interesting thing about severe morning sickness, though. His belief was partially based on research that indicated women had less morning sickness in times of war or famine. I suppose it never occurred to him that a woman’s diet is different during times of war or famine.

Which brings me to the point of this article–Preventing hyperemesis gravidarum. For my first three pregnancies, the internet wasn’t around and my research in the library turned up nothing on the subject. Before my fourth pregnancy, I researched on the internet and bingo, I found some useful information. (You are probably wondering why in the world I would put myself through this four times, but that is the subject for a different blog.)

I found a website that midwives used to discuss pregnancy issues and one talked about a diet that helped prevent hyperemesis gravidarum. Basically, for three months before pregnancy women were put on a diet where they ate no meat, fat, sugar, preservatives or additives of any kind. (I can’t remember whether dairy was allowed. I had a little  skim milk for calcium but didn’t eat cheese.) If I remember right, the idea behind this diet was that it improved your liver’s ability to function.

I had never been able to give up sugar/chocolate before (or since.) But I did it back then because the thought of throwing up during pregnancy was enough to motivate me. Finding things I could eat was a struggle. I ate lots of fruit and vegetables. Those aren’t all that filling. I also made waffles from flour I’d ground myself and ate them plain. I ate a lot of potatoes. I couldn’t put butter on them so I made salsa from scratch just so they would have some flavor.  I ended up losing weight even though I was eating more than I usually did. I mean, I felt like I was eating all of the time because the stuff I ate wasn’t that filling.

(For pregnancies two and three I actually tried to gain weight before I got pregnant because I knew as soon as I was pregnant I would lose weight. I needed the reserve.)

The diet worked. I wish I could say that for that fourth pregnancy I had absolutely no morning sickness, but I still did. It just wasn’t nearly as extreme. I didn’t get sick until later in the pregnancy and it wasn’t as bad. I didn’t have to be hospitalized once. I was well enough that I could eat in the morning. As the day progressed I got sicker and sicker. Around noon I had to take to my bed and stay there, hoping that resting would help me keep down my food. But I was still able to eat a little . This probably sounds bad as far as normal pregnancies go, but it was a huge improvement. The pain was much much less and throwing up actually relieved the nausea, whereas before it wouldn’t.

I always tried to go to sleep at nine because I knew if I was up later the nausea would get bad. But I didn’t want to die. And with the other pregnancies, I really did. I remember my husband leaving in the morning and he would ask me if I needed anything. I would tell him, “Yeah, get me some arsenic.” I was only half joking.

Anyway, I should have put this article up long ago. I hope it can help some other women. If you are already pregnant and have hyperemesis gravidarum. I’m so sorry. I feel your pain. Or at least I did. Hang in there. Life gets better and holding that baby makes it all worth it.

But on the bright side, I’ll have some novellas coming out soon

Sometimes when I tell my husband about something in my schedule, he starts singing the song, “I’m Just a Girl Who Can’t Say No.”

This is actually true about me in many regards. For example, I never say no to chocolate. Or for that matter to anything that tastes like gingerbread. True story: for the last two years I’ve stocked up on the gingerbread spice herbal tea that Celestial Seasonings makes at Christmas time. Sprouts has always been my supplier but after going to three different Sprouts that didn’t have it yet, I panicked and called Celestial Seasonings to see if it was discontinued. Turns out it wasn’t and I could order it directly from them.And shipping was free on orders that were over 49 dollars; so yes, I did buy 49 dollars worth of gingerbread spice herbal tea. I have no regrets about that decision.

Anyway, Rachel Christianson, one of the authors of the Echo Ridge (romance) anthologies told me that an author had dropped out of their group and asked if I wanted to write a 25-35k novella.

Yep. Sure I did. I aimed for 25K and instead wrote one that was almost 36K.

And then Heather from the Timeless Romance anthology told me that one of their writers had dropped out (What is happening to all of these authors and should I be worried?) and asked me if I wanted to write a 15K novella for them.

Of course I did. Novellas are fun and they seem like they’ll be fast to write since they’re not full length.

It just occurred to me today that with those two word-counts together, I would almost have another novel written. Which I don’t. But I’ll have two fun novellas that will come out next year. So there’s that…  And I’ll finish Slayers 4. Really I will…

Thinking about WIFYR (Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers)

I’m going to be teaching at a week-long writers conference in June. This is a special writers conference to me for a lot of reasons. Link to WIFYR homepage

  1. It was the first writing conference I went to as a hopeful writer. It was held in Hawaii. (The amazing Chris Crowe set it up.) Orson Scott Card was my teacher and I learned a ton from him, even though I didn’t always agree with him. That’s where I first met members of the writing tribe. Also of note–at the time I was in no position financially to fly off to Hawaii for a vacation let alone a conference. I saw the announcement for the conference, and with a wistful sigh, thought what a shame it was that I couldn’t go. My husband saw the announcement and told me I should go. I’ve been lucky that he’s always been so supportive.
  2. I’ve taught some amazing writers there. I hate to start mentioning people who’ve taken my class because I will forget some, but ones who have published are Ally Condie, Erin Summerill, Julie Ann Donaldson, Sarah Larsen, and of course there are many more who were great writers and I’m still waiting for them to finish their books and send them out. (Yes, I’m looking at you, Kristi Bevan Stevens.) I’ve made friendships that will last for my entire life there.
  3. I recently went to Boston for a family reunion. I lived there when I was three but don’t remember much about it. My oldest sister remembers more. She said being in Boston reminded her of our mother, who passed away when I was six. I had known my mother wanted to be a writer. I remember seeing her sitting at the typewriter typing. (I was forbidden to touch the typewriter because I couldn’t refrain from pounding on the keys and thus tangling them into a mess.) I had even read some of her short stories, but I hadn’t known until two months ago that she went to a week-long writers conference while she lived in Boston. My sister told me how she would come home every day, excited about the things she’d learned.

I have been thinking about that ever since. Decades ago, writers who I’ll never know helped my mother. She came home energized and happy because of the things she’d learned. Thank you, whoever you were. I hope I can do the same for others.

Wrong Side of Magic blog tour and book giveaway

WrongSideMagic_CVRThe problem with having four books come out in the same year is that you tend to get way behind with promotion. So here is a blog tour for The Wrong Side of Magic, which came out three months ago. (Hey, books aren’t like bread. They’re still good after three months.)

You can win copies of My Fair Godmother, My Unfair Godmother, and Slayers by entering the blog tour give-away listed at the end of the blogs.

Nov 14
Nov 14
Nov 15
Nov 15
Nov 16
Nov 16
Nov 16
Nov 17
Nov 17
Nov 18
Nov 18
Nov 18
Nov 19
Nov 19
Nov 20
Nov 20

Buy The Wrong Side of Magic

“The Phantom Tollbooth gets a modern-day spin in this magical middle grade fantasy filled with adventure and humor that will whisk readers away!”

Hudson Brown stopped believing in magic long ago. That is, until the day he is whisked away to the magical land of Logos by a curious compass given to him by his off-beat neighbor, Charlotte.

Hudson discovers that Logos is a land ruled by words, thoughts, and memories. A fairy might ferry you across the river for the price of one memory. But be sure to look out for snarky unicorns, as they will see through those who are not pure of heart.

Not understanding the many rules of Logos, Hudson is quickly saddled with a troll curse. Charlotte, who, along with her father, was banished from Logos, can help get rid of the curse–but only if he agrees to find the lost Princess of Logos in return.

More on The Wrong Side of Magic

In Praise of Men

Men get a bad rap in our society. Granted, statistically they’re responsible for most crime, most wars, and well, pretty much most of all the bad stuff that happens.  But that doesn’t mean most of them are bad. I think the opposite is true. Most men are decent people and many of them are incredible, amazing individuals.

I guess I’m just sick of all the men-bashing that goes on. My son showed me the Hugh Mongus video last night. It’s become a viral video. I’ll provide a link below, but basically, a woman is filming a guy, and she asks him his name.

He replies, “Hugh Mongus.”

It’s a joke. I thought he was referring to his weight, but she assumed he was talking about a specific body part (where is her mind?) and then she accused him in a hysterical manner of harassment and abuse. She became the thing she decries–attacking a person simply because of her assumptions and his gender.

Security was called and she continued on with her hysterical accusations until you feel genuinely bad for everyone dealing with her. You also feel bad for everyone who has actually been a victim of harassment and abuse, because her overreaction is tantamount to the boy who cried wolf. People may take real accusations less seriously if they think all women are missile-seeking-targets like this lady.

Youtubers have called her out, and instead of admitting that yes, she overreacted, she went on to produce four videos defending her position and accusing anyone who disagrees with her as being indoctrinated into our rape-culture.


I agree that there are a lot of things wrong with our culture. (Don’t get me started.) But the question I’ve been asking myself since I saw this video is how many bad men did this woman know before she formed her opinions? She couldn’t have known the men I’ve known.

Since last night I’ve thought of my father who was one of the most generous people I know, my husband who is the most patient person I know, and the all the young men I know who work and save and willingly give up two years of their lives to go on missions to serve others. I think of the strangers–all of them men–who’ve stopped to help me when I’ve had flat tires. One of them was a heavily tattooed guy who might have frightened me if I’d met him in a dark alley, but he crawled underneath my van to get my spare tire. (Note to Toyota–that’s a stupid place to put a spare.)  I think of a male friend who recently stood up to a thug in order to protect a woman he didn’t know–just because she looked afraid. I think of the men at my church who give up so much of their time to serve people in our congregation–never complaining. I think of my friend’s husband who not only designed this website for me, but who answers all of my technical questions, just because he’s a nice guy. I could go on and on.

I know amazing men; men that I wish I could be more like.

This is me clapping for you–all the awesome men!

And here’s the link: Hugh Mungus video