Monday, February 21, 2011

MGOC Contributor News: Karen Lynn Williams' A Beach Tail and My Name is Sangoel Receive Honors

The picture book A Beach Tail by Karen Lynn Williams (illustrated by Floyd Cooper) has received various honors, including a starred review from Library Journal. The book was named as part of the Texas 2011 2x2 Reading List. The 2011 Zolotow Award committee also cited A Beach Tail as Highly Commended.

Also, by Williams and Khadra Mohammed, My Name is Sangoel (illustrated by Catherine Stock) was listed in the Anansi collection of Picture books by the Children's Africana Book Awards (CABA) and was also featured in a poster of postcards of Noteworthy books for children about Africa. You can find the CABA page on Facebook:

posted by heidi

Friday, February 18, 2011

MGOC Extra Essay: Two Faces of Fiction by KJ Howe

Let's call this post a mission in research.

I've recently been working on a profile about David Morrell (NYT Bestseller and creator of Rambo). David has had an illustrious career spanning 40 years, an incredible feat given the innate challenges of the publishing industry. Unlike many authors today, David has never really created a series character. Instead, he writes stand-alone novels that encompass several different genres, from thrillers to horror to speculative fiction.

Most publishers insist that authors find a niche (specific genre, style of book) and stick with it so they are easier to market.

I can understand this preference as it makes business sense to be able to "brand" and market an author's niche. Sometimes publishers ask authors to change their name and brand if they are writing a new style of book. For example, Joe Konrath wrote the Jack Daniels mystery series under his name, [J. A. Konrath], then started writing in a different genre as Jack Killborn.

As a reader, do you want to reach for a book by X author and know that it will be a certain style and type of novel, or do you like to be surprised by the genre/storyline knowing that you will enjoy the book no matter what because of the author's voice and talent?

Another question that piques my interest is whether readers enjoy the variety of stand-alones more or less than the comfort of a series character novel? I would be so appreciative if you could share your thoughts on these two issues!

("Two Faces of Fiction" appeared in its original form at Romance Bandits, April 23, 2010.)

KJ Howe has won three Daphne du Maurier Awards for Excellence in Mystery and Suspense.

posted by heidi

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

MGOC Contributor News: Maria V. Snyder's Outside In

Maria V. Snyder's follow up to her Young Adult Science Fiction novel Inside Out, is aptly named Outside In.

The sequel about Trella and Riley is now available from Harlequin Teen. Outside In received three stars from RT Book Reviews.

"The characters...are well-developed, and the solid action sequences and world-building make for an entertaining read."
--Publisher's Weekly
about Inside Out

Here's the back cover teaser:


A leader?

Okay, I did prove that there's more to Inside than we knew.

That a whole world exists beyond this cube we live in. And finding that led to a major rebellion—between worker scrubs like me and the snobby uppers who rule our world. Make that ruled. Because of me, we're free. I thought that meant I was off the hook, and could go off on my own again—while still touching base with Riley, of course. He's the one upper I think I can trust. But then we learned that there's outside and then there is Outside.

And something from Outside wants In.

posted by heidi

Friday, February 11, 2011

MGOC Contributor News: Christopher Paul Carey's Novelette Caesar's Children

Christopher Paul Carey's novelette Caesar's Children: A Tale of Pluritopia is now available at the Amazon Kindle store.

Here's a synopsis:

What if there were a world where all the utopias from nineteenth-century literature coexisted? And what if the nations of that world were divided into two types of utopias—the Aspirants, who seek the create the best of all possible worlds for themselves, and the Gildeds, who also seek the perfect world but long to force their own ideals on the other utopias?

On the Pluritopia World, the citizens glide through the heavens in the bellies of fish-shaped airships and learn about the exotic goings-on of the sundry utopias by means of aether-powered telephonoscopes. But when a mysterious woman from the Earth’s center appears suddenly in the tranquil Pacific Northwest paradise of France-Ville, the ideal world finds itself on the brink of the unimaginable—a great conflagration that threatens to scorch the Pluritopia World to cinders.

This novelette first appeared in the anthology Tales of the Shadowmen: Grand Guignol.

posted by heidi

Thursday, February 10, 2011

MGOC Contributor News: Michael Arnzen's Gorelets Omnibus

To celebrate the first decade of poetry and other bizarre musings from Michael Arnzen's site, he is releasing The Gorelets Omnibus this year. The Omnibus will feature about 200 poems, 5 critical articles by guest scholars, a variety of snippets and lists, lost art, early unpublished drafts, new poems written exclusively for this edition, and more.

The ebook will be offered through To be notified of its release, all you need to do is subscribe to his Goreletter.

Mike also has a story in the upcoming issue of The Magazine of Bizarro Fiction, edited by John Skipp. He read this same story at the Bizarro Day Event at Backlist Books.

You can learn more at Mike's new Gorelets Facebook page:

posted by heidi

Friday, February 4, 2011

Open Call for Virtual Book Tour Stops for Many Genres

To celebrate the release of the new writing guide Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction, we are scouting for stops in our three-month mega virtual book tour (VBT) during April, May, and June.

Do you…
…have an author interview series? We have contributors ready to be interviewed.
…review books on your site? We can offer you pdf copies of our book for review.
…provide contests and giveaways? We have swag to give away.
…do something special? We can provide that special something.

All VBT participants will be listed with a link and description on a VBT page on the Many Genres, One Craft site: as well as announced and promoted during the day/s of your stop.

Contact Heidi Ruby Miller at for further inquiries and to schedule your stop today. She will also be glad to interview you for her two author series: HEIDI'S PICK SIX and PATHS TO PUBLICATION as a thank you!

posted by heidi

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

MGOC Extra Essay: Entering Writing Contests - Why? by Kaye Dacus

There’s a lot of discussion going on these days about entering writing contests—what sometimes gets lost in all the freneticism (is that a word?) of preparing an entry for a contest is the reason why one enters the contest in the first place.

I’ve mentioned before that I entered my first unpublished-author contest in 2002 (What Matters Most, my first complete manuscript into the Noble Theme contest at the first-ever ACRW conference). I hadn’t planned to enter, but then, the night before the postmarked-by deadline, I felt God urging me to enter. So I did. I was afraid that if I entered, I would get sick to my stomach, that I would regret it as soon as I handed that flat-rate envelope over to the postal worker. But I didn’t. I actually felt good about sending it. I received an Honorable Mention certificate that year . . . probably because there were only a few entries, so they decided to give us all something. :-) Because when I look back at it now, it sure wasn’t worth mentioning. But the feedback I received from the two judges was invaluable and helped me so much on certain aspects of my writing—tightening my POV, showing not telling, fully developing my characters, and making sure each scene is important to the movement of the story.

I entered two manuscripts the next year (2003): The Best Laid Plans (follow-up novel to What Matters Most) and Love Remains. Neither finaled. The feedback was a little less "honorable mention" and a little more "you can do better than this—and here’s how." Those were a little harder to take, but, after a few weeks, I really gleaned a lot from them.

In 2004, I entered the manuscript I was sure was not only going to win the contemporary romance category, but would be chosen for the Janet Kobobel Grant award for the best overall manuscript: the first draft of Stand-In Groom, then titled Happy Endings Inc. It was the strongest story idea I’d ever had, and it got me into graduate school. And my crit partners liked it. Not only did it not final, I got some pretty harsh feedback on it in addition to middling scores. I wasn’t happy. But, after a few weeks, I was able to really see the points made by the judges (especially having served as a judge myself in the contest that year) and eat humble pie and realize my manuscript wasn’t all that.

Finally, in 2006, with three full revisions on the manuscript behind me, and thesis submission and master’s graduation ahead of me, I entered the new version of Stand-In Groom into the newly named Genesis contest. After I entered it, I ended up doing another revision of the manuscript, which included cutting almost three pages from the opening chapter—the opening chapter that was, at that moment, being judged for Genesis . . . and guess what? I came in SECOND PLACE in my category.

There was a post on the Seekerville Blog about first chapters and how some writers get caught in a hamster wheel of being a professional contest entrant instead of striving to be a published writer. They spend so much time working on their first ten, fifteen, or twenty-five pages to enter into contests, but never finish a manuscript—or if the manuscript is completed, they never spend any time revising the rest of it but just keep tweaking the first part based on contest judges’ feedback. And it really made me think about why I chose to enter HEI/SIG that second time. Here’s part of the comment I left there:

"So while I did enter it twice, in two vastly different incarnations, entering it into the contest wasn’t my main focus–it was the litmus test to see if it was ready to be submitted to editors and agents."

It seems to me that one flaw, one drawback for people who are addicted to entering contests is that they’re using the contest judges’ feedback as their critique group—and as their validation as a writer. If they don’t get good feedback, if they don’t get good scores, if they don’t final, if they don’t win, if they don’t do as well in this contest as the last one, or whatever, they lose confidence in themselves as writers. Contests aren’t for personal affirmation or for summary judgment on whether or not you’re “good enough” to pursue publication. Contests are market research. Contests are great for getting anonymous feedback on your manuscript. But entering contests should not be our writing goal. Our goal in entering a contest should be to make sure that we’ve got the strongest story possible before submitting it to editors and/or agents. They’re the litmus test, not the be-all-and-end-all of becoming a writer. Two years ago, I made promise to myself that I would become ineligible to enter unpublished-author contests in 2007. And as of December 7, 2007, I am officially ineligible to enter the Genesis or any other unpublished-author contest! Make that your goal this year—to use whatever contest you choose to enter this year your springboard to becoming ineligible to enter it next year.

Finally, on another note, people will tell you that the feedback you get on your contest entries isn’t personal. I disagree. Even though as a judge, I don’t know whose manuscript I’m judging, it’s still personal for me. I know that there’s a person on the other end of that entry who’s going to read the comments I’m making, see all of the highlighting and marking I’ve done, and take it very personally (which we’ll get into more in another post). Anything having to do with someone’s writing is very personal! And even as anonymous judges, we have to keep that in mind—while still making sure that we’re giving the strongest and best feedback we can possibly give. So in the coming days, I’ll try to shed a little light on contests from my perspective as a finalist and as a judge. And my crit partners will be dropping in with words of wisdom from their experiences as contest finalists and judges as well.

Why do you enter contests? What do you hope to gain/learn? How much money do you spend in a year entering writing contests versus postage on sending out submissions to editors/agents? How much time do you spend preparing contest entries versus queries/submissions to editors/agents? Do you enter more contests than you send out queries? How has feedback from contests helped/hindered you?

("Entering Writing Contests - Why?" originally appeared in its entirety at Kaye Dacus: Humor, Hope, and Happily Ever Afters, Feb. 26, 2008.)

Kaye Dacus is also the author of The Matchmaker series.

posted by heidi.