Picking the Good Ideas for a Novel – How Do You Know?

I just got back from the RT Booklovers Convention in Atlanta. Here’s Sonali Dev and Grace Draven, after accepting their awards for best Contemporary Romance and Best Fantasy Romance, respectively. Two of my favorite people, among so many wonderful people at that convention. I had a wonderful time!

“Where do you get your ideas?”

This is a question authors get all the time. And we have a pretty stock answer for it, which is absolutely true, that getting ideas isn’t the hard part. Most authors have tons of ideas stockpiled.

Ideas are everywhere. GOOD ideas? Maybe not so much.

That’s our topic at the SFF Seven this week: how do we know which are the GOOD ideas. Come on over to read more

Investing in the Writing Business

The house is officially all decorated now. Lovely to see it all fixed up.

I remember one of my very first jobs, I was required to wear a uniform. Just white blouses and blue navy skirts or slacks. Not a huge deal, but these were clothes I didn’t have, so I had to go out and buy them. I needed money, which is why I got the job, which meant I didn’t have money to spend. Then I found out, because of where I was in the hiring/pay cycle, that I wouldn’t get paid for about six weeks.

I was young. I was naive. But I was frankly shocked.

Before that, I’d mainly done babysitting, and that sort of thing, where you do the work and bam! people hand you money. I’d had that idea firmly lodged in my noggin that money followed work.

Which it does. Eventually.

I’ve been thinking about work lately, because I’m suffering the effects of overwork. I’ve come to realize part of it is that I’ve been working a second job for a really long time now. And it’s really only recently that this second job has started to pay. It’s like I’ve been working this part-time job for 15 years and they’re just now working me into the payroll system.

Writing is the part time job you have for years before anyone pays you.

People who start new businesses hit this, too. “They” say not to plan on making money for the first several years. That’s why so many businesses fail in the first year, because many people don’t adequately plan for this.

Being a writer means investing in growing your craft over time and also starting up a small business: you.

What this means to me is that, moving forward, I want to remember that I’m running a business. I’ll be working various “jobs” with income that fluctuates wildly. It will take a lot of balancing and managing to wean myself from my lovely salaried job and move into the self-employed world. Good thing I love spreadsheets.

And hey – at least there’s no uniform to buy!

Good Business – Please Don’t Be Difficult

The longest day of the year comes to a close. The sun is now at its most northern point, shining into the Secret Garden. The pendulum hits the end of its arc, hesitates, and swings back.

So, I’ve been talking to people about redoing my website. Yeah, it’s old. I’ve bastardized it over the years. I *ahem* rarely update the thing. I kind of hate even looking at it and the prospect of dealing fills me with this formless sense of dread. Nevertheless: the site needs help and it’s time to do it.

Always an interesting thing, when you step out into the world with your fistful of money and say “hey, I’d like to purchase this service.” You’d think, especially with the economy as it’s been, that people would love to have your money and provide that service. Odd that it doesn’t exactly work that way.

I’m totally not counting all the people that suddenly followed me on Twitter the second I mentioned web design.

The first guy I talked to didn’t get my first email. Then, when he got my follow-up email, gave me a lot of complex feedback. As the astute Laura Bickle says, “I don’t want to know how sausage is made.” Don’t tell me about code, please. If I cared about that stuff, I’d be doing, um, web design. He charges by the hour, wasn’t sure how many hours it would take, and seemed to be going in directions that confused me. I expressed my confusion and he never replied.

Guess I was difficult.

After a week, I asked for other recommendations yesterday. KAK gave me one, and a Facebook friend gave me another. I filled out the form requesting proposals on both sites. One of those I still have not heard back from, which I wouldn’t think too much of, except that the other called me within about 1/2 hour. This gal chatted with me about what I wanted, didn’t treat me like I was crazy and explained in exact dollars what it would cost me and what I’d get for that.


Later in the day, the company owner emailed to tell me they were enthusiastic at the prospect of my business. She will be at RWA National next week and wants to meet with me. The fact that she runs her business this well makes me think that she will represent *my* business well, also.

My feeling of formless dread has transformed into enthusiastic hope.

Which is exactly what I’m hiring someone to do. Handle this for me, please.

I think it’s good to pay attention to how people handle their businesses, both good and bad. As writers, we are necessarily business owners, whether we want to be or not. More and more I think the key to running a good business is to make it easy for people to do business with you.

In short: Don’t Be Difficult.

I could wax on with specifics, but I’m sure you all know what I mean. Be easy to communicate with. Be clear. Know your price points.

Oh – and have a good website.