Friday, April 29, 2011


I kinda love this...

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Just Because...

... I'm on a business trip, and it's late, and I'm tired, but this still cracks me up.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

WORST Facebook Pictures

I love Rhett and Link!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Has anyone taken any courses online? I just did one of BEA's webinars last week, and I'm considering the best ways to offer material online. I want to offer the character development course at some point in the next year, and I'd love to know what works for you.

Right now I'm considering a variety of options to use together or separately: Skype, Second Life, Silverlight, a private channel on YouTube for video clips, etc. The course would meet once weekly for several sessions, and enrollees would complete short writing assignments between classes, email them to me early, and then read and discuss them in the class. There's also an online version of the personality inventory that I like to use, so students would be able to complete that online, as well. I'd like something with voice, so we can talk rather than type to each other. Video is optional, although I'd have powerpoint or something for people to get the notes.

I'd also have a couple of books for people to read, probably King's On Writing and Card's Character and Viewpoint over the course.

So, what do you think? Any suggestions?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Heck of a Senior Project

A high school senior in Washington State has pretended to be pregnant for most of her senior year. It's an amazing social experiment, and I think she needs to write a book.

Check it out here:

What do you think of this? Would you let your own child do something like this?

Sunday, April 24, 2011


And the winner of the Spring Writing Contest is...

I was one of you. (Duality) 45.23% (166 votes)

Congratulations, LEXCADE! 

Thanks to everyone who submitted and to everyone who voted.

The winner will receive an in-depth critique of her query letter AND the first 10 pages of her fiction manuscript. Lexcade, please send me your email through the Ganzfield contact form and we'll work out the best way to get the pages to me for your critique.

Happy Easter to all you Easter-celebrators!

Friday, April 22, 2011

ARC Requests

As Jennifer's book gets closer to release, I've been inundated with requests for Advance Reading Copies, a.k.a., ARCs. Some people know how to do this well. Some don't. If you are one of the latter, here's what you need to know.

Include your name as well as your blog, magazine, or newspaper name and a link to it
Include threats if you don't get a free book. 
Spellcheck and proof-read your message. You're sending this to book people, and bad spelling, grammar, and/or punctuation cause us physical pain. 
Say you just want to read it for fun. That's why the publisher and author want you to BUY the book.
Mention the format(s) you can accept, including paper copies, PDFs, Kindle, Nook, etc. If you're unsure which your e-reader can use, just mention which kind you have. And if you prefer a paper copy, please include your mailing address. If you live outside the US, get an e-reader, since overseas shipping is wicked expensive. 
Expect to get a lot of free books if only three people follow your blog or read your e-zine. You need to build up your readership so you have an attractive platform. 

Let us know what you and your magazine, newspaper, or blog can do to promote the book. We're usually happy to consider giveaways, guest posts, and interviews, too, so it never hurts to ask. 
Have your friends email the publisher and ask for extra copies for you. It doesn't come across very professionally.  
Mention where the review will be seen, for example, if you also post to Goodreads, Amazon, Library Thing, Barnes & Noble, etc., mention these, as well. 
Accept an ARC for review, and then NOT read it. It is acceptable to start a book, realize it isn't something you like, and tell the publisher that you'd prefer not to review it. Most of us prefer silence to a bad review. But at least give it a shot, especially during the active promo time frame of the book. 
Be honest when you review a book. If you don't like it, you can say so and tell us why you didn't like it, although we hope you won't be mean about it. Your integrity as a reviewer makes the books you DO like really stand out as special. But feel free not to post a bad review all over the web. Really. In fact, we're happy not to have a 2-star rating pulling down our Goodreads numbers.  
Sell (or try to sell) ARCs. Feel free to give them away to other reviewers, to friends, or in a contest on your blog, but don't sell them. Not cool. 
Post your review in a reasonable time frame. Most of us would prefer to have the review up around the release date, in the period about one month prior to about three months after, give or take. Don't accept more ARCs than you have time to read. 

Here's the deal; publishers have ARCs made up early so they can send them out to reviewers or others who will generate buzz for the book. They cost more than books from the regular print run--usually about twice as much. We need to justify the expense of printing and mailing the ARC, which means we need to believe that enough of your readers will buy the book based on your review to make back what we spent.

That being said, most publishers will be happy to let you help get the word out.

Happy weekend! Make sure you get your vote in for the Spring Writing Contest before the Sunday deadline!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Amazing Blends

It used to be simple.  The different genres were pretty obvious: sci-fi wasn't romance, which wasn't Western, which wasn't thriller, which wasn't fantasy, and so on.

Now we have Charlaine Harris with an incredible paranormal-romantic-Southern-mystery, and even Speilberg's newest, which pings my inner geekometer up to 11: (don't watch at work, in front of small children, or with my grandmother)

And to think we used to get all worked up when someone got their chocolate into our peanut butter.

BTW, who walks down the street eating directly from an open jar of peanut butter?

But I digress.

Finally, here's a piece of sublime fusion. Thanks to Gregg for the link!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Here There Be Dragons

If you write speculative speculative fiction--sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal--or even about a sub-culture of society--the Amish, college marching bands, etc.--you need to introduce the reader to your world. How do you do it?

I haven't done a comparative study, but it seems that the most common method is to bring in a new character, often the MC, and have the world unfold as he or she discovers it.

For example, one could send a New York doctor to live in a small town in Alaska (Northern Exposure).

So, if you're a writer with your own world or sub-culture, how do YOU bring the reader in?

Don't forget to vote for your favorite awesome line in the Spring Writing Contest! We've gotten over 160 votes so far and some clear favorites are emerging. But it's the internet, and, like Ivy-League football, anything can happen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Random Acts of Senseless Kindness

Hi folks,

Author Graham Parke has taken me up on last week's "promote your book"offer. His free novella is on his website here:

Personally, I read it before I posted it here, and it's wicked funny. Actually, it reminds me of Douglas Adams' work, and that's high praise. Once you've read it, you can go over to Goodreads and tell people what you thought of it, too.

Which is, of course, kinda the whole point of Goodreads, so that last bit is sorta redundant on my part. Whatever.

Oh, and please be sure to vote in the awesome line contest!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Spring Writing Contest: The VOTE!

Welcome to Round Two!

Vote for the line that most make you want to read the book. You can look up the authors and genres on the first round post if you like, but the point of the awesome line is to instantly intrigue the reader without a lot of additional information. Please cast your vote by 6pm (EDT) on Sunday, April 24th. I'll announce the winner on Monday the 26th.

Which AWESOME LINE makes you MOST want to read the book?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Angelina's Secret

Hey, remember a couple days ago when I mentioned how authors need to promote their work? I've got an idea: promote it HERE! Send me a link to your website or blog and I'll tell my readers about you (limited to the first three authors who send me info through the Ganzfield contact form and who write stuff I can discuss on a family friendly blog).

For example, here's Lisa Rogers' debut novel, Angelina's Secret:

As a child, Angelina spent years in counseling learning that Josie, her imaginary friend, wasn’t real, but it turns out her childhood friend wasn’t imaginary after all.

Now Angelina has to accept she’s either (A) crazy or (B) able to see ghosts. Wanting to believe in her sanity, she chooses (B) and welcomes Josie back into her life. But even Josie can't help her deal with Shelly, the spirit of a confused teenager, and things go very, very wrong.
When Angelina finds herself in a psychiatric hospital, she faces a choice: she can spend the rest of her life pretending to be someone she isn’t, or she can embrace who she is and take a chance that she may never get to go home. 

ISBN: 978-0-9831572-8-1  

You can stop by Goodreads if you'd like to add it to your to-read list, "Like" her on Facebook, and/or check out her website. It's being released by Spencer Hill Press in February 2012.

So, what are you promoting?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I had this weird dream...

You know how people like to tell others about the weird dreams they've had, but no one is particularly interested, so they nod politely or turn the tables and start talking about their own dreams?

I have a theory about this.

First, I think we'd be more interested if people could show us their dreams, a la Inception. All you writer-types know that showing is better than telling.

Second, I believe that most dreams are poorly told. Dream-sharers shouldn't describe the action, but instead would get better responses if they could distill the essence to a sound-bite or a punchline.

"Had my dream again where I'm making love, and the Olympic judges are watching. I'd nailed the compulsories, so this is it, the finals. I got a 9.8 from the Canadians, a perfect 10 from the Americans, and my mother, disguised as an East German judge, gave me a 5.6. Must have been the dismount."
 - Harry Burns in When Harry Met Sally

Anyone have any good dreams recently?

I was playing a Massive Multiplayer Online Game... State Legislature. We so passed that bill! 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Authors and Self-Promotion

Laura Miller over at wrote an article a couple of weeks ago about how some self-pubbed authors (namely, Amanda Hocking) are signing deals with traditional presses while traditionally published authors like Barry Eisler are leaving the big six and going to self-pub in the future.

I'm assuming that none of the readers of this blog are best-selling authors yet (although I'm hoping Jennifer Armentrout will still stop by after she becomes one), but the main point of this article is that all authors MUST promote their books in order to sell them.

Author events like tours and book signings aren't cost-effective unless the author is well-known enough to attract a crowd. Most writers at the start of the careers need to focus on building a readership in other ways. Fortunately, thanks to the series of tubes known as the interwebs,* this can be done from anywhere on Earth. And probably from the International Space Station, too (I kinda want to read a blog from the ISS).

*double-bonus points if you recognize the origin of this term 

So, new writers, start with a blog, website, or Facebook fan site. Give your readers a good reason to stop by--either by offering contests, giveaways, useful tips... or content so entertaining that it's a reward in itself. It does take time, but it's an effective way to build interest in your book, and it's cheaper than advertising. It also builds "buzz," which is true interest, rather than "hype," which is paid for. Most people these days have spent their entire lives bombarded by advertising, so we've built up a tolerance to it. Either we're suspicious of it 'cuz, yeah, like Sea Monkeys really turn into little Caucasian nuclear families in that plastic container with the magnifying bubbles:

Or we tune it out so it won't overwhelm us:

If you want people to care, you need to connect on a personal level, whether you're a wicked famous author or a newbie with a self-pubbed debut. The only difference is, if you have a 7-figure advance from St. Martin's, you can hire a personal assistant to help you with it.

Speaking of self-promotion, you only have one more day to post your awesome line to the Spring Writing Contest!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Dolphins and Cats

How cool is this?

Thanks to Justine for the link.

Only three more days to post your awesome line to the Spring Writing Contest!

Monday, April 11, 2011

News of the World

Tell me, where do you learn about current events? Network news? Cable news? Online? The Daily Show?    BBC? Newspaper? Friends and rumors?

Where do you get your info? I'm asking to make some characters more believable.

There's still time to enter the Spring Writing Contest. Check it out!

Friday, April 8, 2011

And the next cover reveal!

When it rains, it pours.  Check this one out:

Masters of the Veil 
(Book One of the Veil Trilogy)

Life can’t get much better for Sam Lock. Popular, good-looking, and with a future as a professional football player… every guy at Stanton High School wishes he were Sam. That is, until his championship football game, when Sam accidentally links with an ancient source of energy known as the Veil and reveals his potential to become a powerful sorcerer.

Sam’s dreams are crushed as he is whisked off to Atlas Crown, a community of sorcerers who utilize the Veil as a part of everyday life. Once there, he trains beside a mute boy who speaks through music, an eternal sage who is the eyes and ears of the Veil, and a beautiful girl who's pretty sure Sam's an idiot.

As it becomes clear that Sam is meant for power magic—the most feared and misunderstood form of sorcery—people beyond Atlas Crown learn of his dangerous potential. An exiled group of power sorcerers are eager to recruit Sam, believing that he is destined to help them achieve their long-held goal. If they succeed, they could bring about the downfall of not only Atlas Crown… but all of humankind. 

This book will be released by Spencer Hill Press on March 1st, 2012. It's up on Goodreads now, and I strongly recommend adding it to your "to read" list.

Happy weekend!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cover Reveal!

                                             Cover by Gary McCluskey

This is the cover for the forthcoming anthology! Want your story in it? There's still time to submit it.

Call for Submissions for UnCONventional 
(a short story anthology)

We're looking for stories that take place at fantasy/sci-fi conventions or other gatherings in which the convention/conference itself is just the cover for something supernatural or fantastic. Imagine time travelers using a steampunk con to cover their attempt to open a portal to return to their own times, werewolves holding a beauty pageant at a dog show, or vampires holding a treaty summit at Dragon*Con. 

Suggested Length: 3,000-7,000 words. Up to 10,000 words is possible, but it will be a HARD sell. 

Due Date: July 1st, 2011 

Editors: Kate Kaynak and Trisha Wooldridge 

Submission Guidelines: Please email your submissions to us at: 
Put your story into the BODY of the email (no attachments, please!) and put "UnCONventional" in your subject line along with the title of your story. 

Legalese: We can only accept previously unpublished stories. Please do not used licensed characters or any trademarked or copyright-protected material without written permission in advance of submission (This is NOT the place for fanfic). Contributor compensation will include a $10 advance paid upon publication, a contributor copy of the paper version, a royalty percentage split between all contributors, and, of course, bragging rights. Stories should be appropriate for adult and teen readers (age 14 and up); please, no explicit sex or graphic violence!

Don't forget to enter the Spring Writing Contest. What's your awesome line?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring Writing Contest

Welcome to the long-awaited spring writing contest here at Disgruntled Bear! The winner will receive an in-depth critique of his/her query letter AND the first 10 pages of his/her fiction manuscript.

Cool, right?

To enter, post a comment below by midnight EDT on Friday, April 15th with the following info:
Awesome Line

What's an awesome line, you ask? Imagine your book becomes a movie--what will be written on the poster? What single sentence should be in big letters on the back cover of your book?

"Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water."

There's a lot of great advice out there about how to write a logline.

"I KNOW what you're thinking."

"I don't think we're in Kansas anymore."

Competent loglines give an overall sense of the story, like:

"A young man and woman from different social classes fall in love aboard an ill-fated voyage at sea."

"A journey of self-discovery by a brilliant mathematician once he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He eventually triumphs over tragedy and receives the Nobel Prize."

But awesome lines give a FLAVOR of the narrative voice with humor, dark foreshadowing, a hint of danger, etc.

"Love at Second Sight."

Sometimes it's simply a line of the dialogue that really gives this sense.

"Well, Clarice - have the lambs stopped screaming?"

"You talkin' to me?"

"I’d be super-pissed in the afterlife if I died a virgin in this craphole."

So, what single sentence really sells the reader on your book? THAT'S your awesome line. Put it here. After the deadline, I'll set up a poll and we'll put it to a vote starting on Monday, April 18th.

And hey, if you need inspiration, you can always use the
random logline generator. My personal favorite:

"A prostitute and a pack of polygamist ventriloquists teach everyone a valuable lesson on a subway train."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


What sorts of things put smiles on your faces? Personally, I enjoy well-done randomness:

The next writing contest starts tomorrow!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Great Advice

Last week, Roni over at Fiction Groupie shared the Ten Commandments of the Successful Author.

Check it out. Learn it. Live it.

Speaking of writing advice, I'll have a new writing contest up here by the end of the week. The winner will get a query and first pages critique.

Friday, April 1, 2011

MINDER Movie News!!!

Guess who just signed on to play Trevor in the Minder movie?

What? You didn't know about the Minder movie deal? Well, that could be because:
A) My lawyer said I couldn't talk about it until everything was official
B) We kept it quiet until we could officially attach Mary Alton to do Maddie's telepathic voiceovers
C) It's April Fool's Day, so none of this is real
D) Both A and B

And the winner of the Graceling giveaway is...

Lady Reader!  

Congrats! I'll send you an email to set up delivery.

Happy Weekend!