Making Fiction Progress & Economical Suckisity

I will finish the first draft of the novel this month. No excuses. I’ve taken steps to streamline existing deadlines, and plan to say “no” to any extras this month. So weekends will be devoted to the columns and blogs, once a month I’ll do the Pet Peeves newsletter and radio gigs, and devote weekdays and most evenings to fictioning. 

I’m at page 200 on the first draft of DEADLINES, a thriller, featuring an animal behaviorist protag who happens to have a radio show called Pet Peeves. Go figure. *s* More later…I’m superstitious about jinxing things by telling too much. 

I’m also a bit superstitious about saying much about the acting biz. How many writers do you know who kept it a secret before proclaiming their status to the world-at-large, “Yes, I am a writer!” Well…I am a writer. I am also an actor. I’ve been acting longer than I’ve been a writer. So now have an NYC agent for my writing and a Dallas agent for my acting endeavors. If you know the current state of the publishing industry–the acting industry is a mirror image. Boy, do I know how to pick ’em or what?!

That said, on the writing front I received some nice checks in October for past work, payment for some kewl online article assignments and blogs, and a nice-size royalty check on the First-Aid book. Good economics. I have some contracts pending for ’09, and have several book ideas percolating with my NYC agent. Promising economics. Also had some promised ’09 jobs evaporate–and the Chicken Soup stuff remains up in the air. Sucky economics. Now I’m trying to decide whether to fund expensive flight/hotel cost for some major research trips, which might lead to some assignments…or not. Questionable economics.

The Cat Writers Association annual writers’ conference is this month (see www.catwriters.org) and I’ve been nominated to serve as president. I look forward to the challenge, but am also concerned about the time necessary for the job. The current and incoming directors and past committee chairs are dedicated and insightful pros and that’s a major comfort.

On the plus side, my new Pet Peeves newsletter receives kudos, and the radio show of the same name garnered several award nominations. I’m also having a ball watching myself (and other experts) on the DOGS 101 show on Animal Planet. In addition to this LiveJournal blog, you can find me at MySpace, RedRoom, YouTube and FaceBook–a good thing for marketing and networking, but also a major time drain. So from now on, I’ll likely just write one blog, and copy to all these places.

If you want original musings, subscribe to the Pet Peeves E-newsletter. *eg*

All we can do is the best we can do during these challenging times. I’m grateful for the work I have, pray it will continue and that new interesting work comes with 2009.

Some extra hours in the day would be nice.

Pet Peeves Newsletter, First Issue

The first issue, sent this past Friday, has received rave reviews. It’s the same title as my podcast  and the two go together paw-in-glove. A winner of one of my autographed pet titles will be chosen the last day of each month from current subscribers. That means, if you’ve not yet signed up, there’s still time before the first drawing. Winners may even get a photo of their pet featured in the next issue.

Meander over to the htt://www.shojai.com site, click on the Newsletter page, and sign up. Lots of fun stuff in the works, and I don’t want you to miss out.

Nope, sorry, I can’t offer one-on-one pet advice through the newsletter–there just ain’t enuff hours in the day! But any feedback or suggestions for topics will be considered for a future issue.

 best,

amy

Free Pet Peeves Newsletter

NEWS FLASH! This Fall, Amy will launch a FREE monthly E-Newsletter with health and behavior articles, care tips, training tricks, pet news and advice. Pet Peeves comes directly to your in-box, so you can read what you like and even pass on to other pet-loving friends. A free autographed book will be given away each month to one lucky subscriber. SUBSCRIBE TODAY by filling out the form, below. Please send this free offer to your other pet-loving friends!

Go to my website, http://www.shojai.com and visit the NEWSLETTER page to subscribe.

I’m excited about this new project and hope other cat and dog lovers will enjoy it, too. Each month will include links to a recently posted radio show podcast (also called Pet Peeves, hosted by www.petliferadio.com). Links to my NBC-Universal http://www.petside.com pet blog will also be included.

It promises to be an exciting and busy fall, and all the details will be available about travels, events, and projects. So if you love pets, join the happy clowder, and howl with the pack at PET PEEVES.

woofs & purrs,

amy

Podcasting, Promos, Potions & Pet Projects

”The

I’m jealous of my time.  Most authors feel the same way. Anything that takes away from creating that work-in-progress feeds my nervous tic. Yet the best books in the world never stand a chance without that “P” word getting a workout. 

Talking about promotions, guys.  Book promotion, self-promotion, cross-promotions. Building a platform, creating some “buzz,”  blogging, speaking–

Podcasting! 

Bubble bubble, toil and trouble…

My radio show podcast first aired (is that the right word?) February 2008. It currently ranks #3 of pet-theme downloads for iTunes, with 58,000 hits in the past two months. How does that translate into book sales? I’ll let you know after my next royalty statements arrive, but it certainly can’t hurt.

I don’t pretend to have a magic cauldron souping up book sales. But I squeeze every drop of juice from my writing minutes and throw everything into the promo-pot. Podcasts work particularly well for nonfiction authors, but should have equal or even better buck-bang for fiction authors because so few novelists take advantage of this venue. Leverage what you know, make it news-worthy, and expand your audience–and media appeal.

Interestingly, the protagonist in my WIP thriller happens to host a radio show called “Pet Peeves.” Midway through writing the book, it made sense for me to expand my brand as a nonfiction author and animal care expert, and actually create such a show. 

The resulting “Pet Peeves” radio podcast on www.petliferadio.com offers half-hour weekly installments that showcase my pet expertise, increase media exposure, add to my platform, and generate awareness (and sales!) of existing prescriptive dog and cat books. It’s already an established go-to destination even before the novel appears. Once the thriller launches, my hero’s ongoing story should promote the podcast, and vice versa. At least, that’s the plan.

Of course, I already cross-promote the Pet Peeves radio show with mentions in my various columns, articles, and blogs. Yep, I multi-task my little appendages off. A given Pet Peeves radio show topic often inspires a column or blog (or vice versa). When one interview does double or triple duty, that carves out extra time I can spend writing. 

In addition, my existing books and website articles can be included in the podcast as a “further reading” resource. Can you say “buzz-your-book?” 

Podcasting generates other promotional opportunities as well. In the past three weeks, I’ve received inquiries about appearing as an expert on upcoming Animal Planet shows, touring opportunities as a media spokesperson, and guest appearances/citations on other podcasts and print venues. Every mention helps.

Fiction authors often interview experts to keep the story details accurate. Why not do a podcast interview? It’s painless, can be done by telephone in your pajamas with no makeup and nobody knows the difference. I live north of Dallas, my producer is in Florida, and guests from all over the country appear on Pet Peeves. They receive a “guest page” on the www.petliferadio.com site with their picture, bio, and pertinent links, and return the favor by linking on their site back to the radio show.

You can record onto your laptop with any audio recording program. I understand that iPod also makes a recording attachment. For Pet Peeves, I purchased a headset and use Skype.com software. My producer calls me using Skype, and then we dial-in the guest via regular telephone landlines.

Happy podcasting! If you cook up the right promotion ingredients for your own pet projects, publishers just may eat it up!

best,
amy

Find an Agent, Publisher, Author-Mentor at this Conference

Busy busy busy…last week I attended the Border Queen Book Festival, signed and sold a bunch of books and met some great folks in Comanche, Oklahoma. Once I returned, I had hopes of making further progress on the WIP, but instead spent more attention on the OWFI conference than anticipated. Really there’s nothing of grave concern, just answering questions and dealing with this-and-that such as confirming details with the hotel.

JA Jance, our keynote speaker for the Friday May 2nd evening banquet, will now have a stand-alone book signing prior to that evening’s dinner, since she’s unable to attend our mass-signing-event the next day. Both Ms Jance’s and the mass-signing will be open to the public.

Although the official conference hotel is sold out (and has been for several weeks) there are several others available–some within a short walk of the Reed Center in Midwest City, OK. Interest continues to rise, and all the tote bags and suchlike have been ordered. If it proves true to form as in year’s past, many folks wait to register until these couple of weeks before the conference so I expect a rush as we get closer. Our conference venue can accomodate over 500 and so this year, we have not limited registrations for the first time in several years.

The 27 speakers include 5 agents (Meredith Bernstein, Doris Booth, Ann Hawkins, Rita Rosenkranz, Jim Donovan Agency) 7 editors (Avalon Books, Samuel French, St. Martin’s Press, Grand Central Publishing, Baen Books, Charlesbridge Press, Highlights for Children) plus over a dozen best-selling authors:

AC Crispin, Kathryn Johnson, CJ Lyons, Nancy Robinson Masters, Bob Mayer, Jason Pinter, Dan Poynter, Marcia Preston, Debrah Williamson, Rebecca York and others.

Next week on April 15 (tax day, ai-yi-yi!), I’ll travel to Oklahoma City to meet with the conference hotel and finalize a few more things. Ya know, it’s very much like the final weeks of rehearsing a big-old musical–I’ve done my share of those!–and we’re coming up to tech week when all the plans of sets, lights, sound, blocking, orchestra, acting and lines come together (or fall apart!). It’s the make-or-break point when you know if you’ve got a crowd-pleasing show that’ll wow ’em and demand a standing-O . . .

Or if you’ve wasted your rehearsal time cuz the director’s vision sucked. 

It’s exactly the same, only different. (inside joke, folks…couldn’t resist)

Well, there comes a time in every rehearsal/show when the director loses control of the on-stage action and has to trust that preparation will carry things through to a success. I’m nearly at that point with OWFI. The stage is set, the paint dry, blocking rehearsed, lines learned, only a few nip-and-tucks left to fit final costumes before the overture plays and the curtain goes up. 

Tickets are on sale now…at www.owfi.org ….y’all come!