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Published fiction and nonfiction author who embraces her creativity and coaches other women to do the same.
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1. Ebooks win, and so does "plain writing"

Music I'm listening to: "Icing on the Cake" by Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy.

Ebook sales have now surpassed print book sales at Amazon--even after excluding free ebooks. It had to happen, folks, and anyone who's still thinking it will take a couple of years for ebooks to grab more than 20% of the market is in denial (ahem, nameless "analysts" in this CNN article).

And as a former college professor, I'm smiling at this little piece of news: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/19/plain-writing-act-to-take_n_864336.html. Long time comin'.

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2. And this is why

This is the bestselling product at Amazon. EVER.

And yes, I love mine.

Paper is great, it really is--but its time is limited. Maybe hardbacks will survive the next decade, but honestly, I'm starting to doubt even that.

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3. A view from the future

It's the present for Joe, but the future for many:

A Bedtime Story by J.A. Konrath

Self-publishing is not the right thing for every writer--particularly those who simply want to write and don't have an interest in all the other things (cover art, formatting, marketing) that become a self-published author's responsibility. The right path today depends on many things, including the type of book and the author's goals.

But down the road, viable businesses will spring up to handle such things for authors in an effective and affordable way that most current "author services" companies do not.

The future will be good. :)

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4. Rant from a reader of self-help books: Authors, don't do this.

Music I'm listening to: "Red Rose" by Alphaville.

Argh, I hate it when I read a healthy sample of a self-help book for the Kindle, like it, then buy the book--and the author continues for another third of the book trying to convince me how useful said book will be and how much I need their method of doing whatever it is. Look, if I'm able to get that far in the book, it's because I already bought the book.

Dear Self-Help Authors: I've already handed over my money. You don't need to convince me anymore. You just need to give me the information you promised in the sample.

That's right, the sample. Ask your publisher how much of the book they'll offer as a Kindle sample. This is becoming a very useful piece of information. It can and should affect what you write and how you organize the book. Yes, you'll have to consider how much front matter you have (title page, acknowledgments, table of contents, etc.), so your guess won't be exact, but you should still be aware of a reader's patience (or lack thereof).

If you self-publish, the sample will be 10% at Amazon and B&N, no more and no less. You can offer a different amount through Smashwords, but the bulk of your readers will come from the first two.

Heck, Mr./Ms. Author of the more traditional mindset, even if I were reading a print copy, do you think I'm going to stand around in the book store and peruse a full third of the book before making a decision?

Just get on with it, folks. No need to pad the page count--or waste the reader's time, which is likely as precious to her as her money.

Thank you in advance for being efficient.

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5. A sign of the times

The Guinness Book of World Records has released an ebook version. Change is here, folks...

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6. The Battle of 2010: Digital Books are Winning

Music I'm listening to: "Don't Do Me Any Favours" by a-ha (yes, a-ha still exists!)

What a crazy and wonderful year for authors.

It's my job to keep an eye on the publishing industry, and digital books are on the way to changing much of it—even though a good portion of the industry resists that truth.

I've been a Kindle owner since 2008. I don't like buying printed books anymore; ebooks are so much more convenient. The only time I'll buy paper is if I MUST have a particular book immediately and it hasn't yet made it to the Kindle, or if it's a book I know I'll want to make lots of notes in (certain books about writing, for example).

My Kindle has more than 600 items on it right now. Many are the free samples of books, so I can see if I'll like the voice and style before I purchase it. Kindle samples have become my TBR (to be read) pile. Two of my family members now have Kindles, too—including someone who doesn't read much.

When e-reader prices drop again in the next year or two, I think a huge swath of consumers will stop buying mass-market paperbacks and go for digital copies instead.

Authors are benefitting from the digital revolution, too. Many have gotten the rights reverted for their backlist books, then put those books up on the Kindle where they can continue to make money instead of withering into obscurity. New authors—people who have never signed a contract with a traditional publisher—are succeeding with ebooks in a way that was simply impossible before the current digital era. They also retain full control over their books.

Traditional publishing comes with many advantages, but there are also disadvantages (such as these). While I used to recommend a traditional approach for almost every new client, there's much more to consider these days.

Options make everything more interesting!

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7.

Music I'm listening to: Moonshadow by Cat Stevens.

Hmm, I think it's time to fire up this blog again.

I've been focusing on my Write Now Quotes newsletter for the past year, and that's set up to be a brief format for encouraging writers. There have been so many developments in publishing lately (especially in digital publishing) and other things beyond the scope of WNQ that would be fun to discuss here.

So I'll be moseying my way back to this blog as well as continuing with WNQ.

Hello again, Blog World!

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8.

Music I'm listening to: "America" by Simon and Garfunkel. (I may be the 80s New Wave Queen, but I have an eclectic collection.)

Getting rejections and feeling a little low? Read this post by William Simon/Will Graham about your fellow rejectees. It'll soothe the ouchies.

You're welcome.

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9. The new B&N Nook ereader; a taste of Write Now Quotes

Music I'm listening to: "The Love Parade" by The Dream Academy, followed by "Mr. Plain" by Nick Heyward (formerly of Haircut 100). Okay, you have to be a New Wave 80s junkie to know that one, but there you go.

Well, a day without email is no fun. One of my webhost's servers borked, and with it my website and my email. This glitch is happening just three weeks after the last lovely tech debacle, when my email (hosted by a separate company at that time) went down. Frustrated, I moved my email service back to my webhost...and now this. Have I been cursed by a god of technology? Hmm. Well, I won't sent this post out until all is well again. ::twiddling thumbs::

Ahh, there now, finally all better. Website is up and email is back. (Amazing how lost one feels these days without email...)

In other news, if you haven't yet signed up for my Write Now Quotes newsletter (what do you mean, you haven't!?), go here for a lil' taste of what you're missing.

WNQ will bring you motivation and inspiration for your writing. (Psst, a little secret: even non-writers will find the motivation useful.) And it goes out only once every week or two, so it won't clog your inbox. Win-win. Surf to http://women-ink.com/wnq.htm to subscribe.

On Tuesday, Barnes and Noble announced its new e-reader, the Nook. It's slated to ship on November 30, but is available for pre-orders now. As we get closer to the ship date and reviewers get their hands on the device, I look forward to the head-to-head comparisons with the Amazon Kindle--and to further innovations by both companies and the many others leaping into the e-reader market. Score for consumers and readers! (I looooove my Kindle, e-reader, as longtime readers will remember.) What do you think about the Nook and e-readers?

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10. Hysterically funny link, yet a little too true

Ah, the publishing business. It certainly has its...er, issues...in the modern age:

Subject: Our Marketing Plan

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11. There ain't no muse?

Music I'm listening to: Neighbors (Razormaid Mix) by Camouflage

Are you waiting for Inspiration to drop by for some tea and conversation?

First, partake of this food for thought by one of the most prolific authors out there: There Ain't No Muse: A Conversation with Nora Roberts

- Katey
Women-Ink.com

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12. Fun with Publishing (Not)

Music I'm listening to: The ticking of my new wall clock. A little boring, but hey.

Publisher Hell stories, anyone? A couple of my clients, both debut authors, have new contributions for the pot.

One received an advance copy of her printed memoir last week. An exciting time for a debut author, yes? Sure, until she realized that her publisher had left out all the photographs. In a memoir. A horrifying deletion, not to mention that the photos were referenced in the text. My client was understandably shocked.

Things did not bode well. The publisher admitted the error was their fault, but said it couldn't be helped now. The book would go out to the stores completely photoless.

OH REALLY, said my client's agent. THINK AGAIN.

And wonder of wonders, the publisher finally caved and agreed to reprint the book. Quite an expense at their end, but now they're doing what's right. I hope all's well that ends well, and that the release date won't be shifted much.

Speaking of release dates, imagine being just weeks away from your first book's debut. You've sweated and slaved over that book for several years and told all your friends and excited colleagues when it's coming out. There's a page for it at Amazon with your name and a pre-order button and everything--it's real! It's the work of your heart and it's nearly here... Then imagine learning that your book has been rescheduled. Oh, and not just for a few weeks or months after the original release date, but for a year and a half after it. Um, unfun, right? Ah, but this client's story gets even better.

Her editor, the fantastic person responsible for loving, buying and committing to her wonderful book, is retiring before the new release date. Oh, yes. That editor will no longer be there to shepherd the book through the publishing jungle. My client is being "orphaned"--not uncommon in publishing, and something that introduces stress and uncertainty for the author and some risk for the book. I have my fingers crossed that everything will go smoothly with this transition, and that her new editor will love her book and be willing to push it just as much as the previous one did. She deserves that, and so does this book.

Oh, and there are far worse stories out there. Check out the Editor from Hell story, for starters. If you're feeling masochistic. :-)

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13. A win for ebooks: Kindle 2 available for pre-order!

Music I'm listening to: my own whoops of joy

My kindle 2 will be here on Feb. 25. Squeeee!

The brand-spankin' kindle 2 will be $359 (same price as the kindle 1, which they're no longer selling) and available for sale on Feb. 24.

The k2:
- is the same width as k1, is half an inch longer, but only a third of an inch think
- has seven times the original amount of storage space and 25% more battery life
- features 16 shades of gray instead of the original 4 (though external rumor has it that within a year or so, color e-ink screens will be possible)
- has better annotations (you no longer have to select an entire line to highlight one word)
- will offer location syncing between devices (in other words, it hold your place even if you're reading the same book on more than one device--wish I had two kindles to enjoy that feature!)
- and will even read a book to you (text-to-speech).

They've done away with SD card storage and a user-replaceable battery, though. I guess they couldn't squeeze those into the super-thin shape. The SD card storage isn't an issue for me, since every book bought through Amazon is on a "permanent bookshelf" for you. You can always download it to your kindle again for free.

Also, Amazon has been hinting that they'll allow users of other devices, such as mobile phones, to make e-book purchases through Amazon. No word yet on whether they'll allow it for other dedicated e-readers (competitors of the kindle)--I hope they do--and there's no expected date for this yet.

I'm also sad, though not surprised, that Amazon's kindles aren't supporting the ePub format (which, with luck, will become the standard e-book format--one format capable of being read on many devices). Unfortunately, Amazon has an interest in NOT supporting ePub, since Am owns the competing Mobipocket format.

Also no word about whether the new kindle will have *folders* in which to organize all your books. The lack of folders was one of my peeves with the k1, as the only way to see all you had on the kindle was to look through a long list of every book on it--no organizing by genre, etc. I do hope they'll have this fixed on the k2, since it was one of the biggest user complaints. We shall see!

Anyway, go drool. It's what I've been doing this morning.

- Katey, eagerly awaiting Feb. 25

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14. Happy February (mostly). And the E-book revolution?

Music I'm listening to: my hubby watching TV downstairs and snow melting from the roof. Which means snow is sticking to the mountains high above us. YAAAAAY! *Katey smiles at her skis*

Today, however, I'm battling a cold (ugh) and spending my Saturday working out how to make my latest manuscript bigger in both length and plot. I love Donald Maass's Writing the Breakout Novel (and the workbook he wrote for it) and always find good ideas in there.

My break time is often spent trying to catch up with blogs in Google Reader, especially since I'm eager for the announcement of the new Amazon Kindle on Monday. Here's a juicy new post about ebooks and the future of publishing. I don't agree with all of it, but much of it seems spot-on. Change is on the way! Elgan: Here comes the e-book revolution

One of my fabulous clients, Jan Elvin, has written a terrific guest post for me about our work toward the sale of her debut book. The Box from Braunau: In Search of My Father's War will be published in hardcover this May. (Check it out!) I'll have her post up this week, providing I don't get buried under a pile of antihistamines and tissues.

And speaking of my fabulous clients, Leigh Brill sold her memoir about cerebral palsy and how her wonderful service dog, Slugger, forever changed her life. Leigh's book was originally scheduled to appear in stores just weeks from now (B&N still lists it that way), but the publisher elected to postpone until the fall of 2010 due to the overabundance of dog books on the market. Naturally, this was heart-wrenching for both of us, as no author wants such a delay. Meanwhile, we're hoping for more good news about Leigh's book down the road, and she's working on a fantastic series of children's books. (More to come as developments warrant.)

Readers, I hope you're healthy and happy--and writing!

Katey
Women-Ink.com

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15. About publishing's failures...and the future

Music I'm listening to: "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" by Loreena McKennitt

Some of you may have seen this already, but this article on the publishing industry by agent Richard Curtis is certainly food for thought:

E-Reads: Behind Publishing's Wednesday of the Long Knives

The future's nearly here, folks. I myself bought a Kindle last spring and loved it. I recently sold it, but only to prepare for the Kindle 2 (or another e-book device that will catch my fancy). Honestly, paper books now feel awkward to me. It's frustrating to have to hold them open (particularly since I'm often multitasking when I read--eating, brushing my teeth, etc.), and I hate breaking the spines of my books! Feels like a wee murder. I love the ease and practicality (no storage space needed!) of my e-books. They never yellow or get brittle, and I can lose myself in the story, instead of the format.

But DRM (digital rights management) is one thing holding me back from building a big e-library. I hope publishers and online retailers (ahem, Amazon) move to DRM-free books, or at least to ePub or another format that can be moved among the purchaser's devices of choice. I think Amazon will go that way eventually, based on its DRM-free .mp3 library and a strong hope that it smells the coffee, but we'll see.

Anyway, I do think big changes are ahead for the industry, for good or for ill. Let's hope for the good.

By the way, do you want to zoom forward with your writing? Could you use a support system for your publishing goals and a caring, personal guide to help you write and sell? Good, because now's the time. I'm running a half-off sale on book coaching for writers for the month of January! It's the first sale I've ever offered, and I may not ever do it again, but the new year is just around the corner and I'm inspired to help you succeed in 2009.

Go to Women-Ink.com/half.htm to read all about the sale, but remember--you must get in touch with me by December 31, 2008 and let me know you want the discount. Time's ticking. Go!  :-)

Dear readers, one and all, may you have the happiest of holidays and a truly magnificent year ahead.

Katey


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16. How to help the books we love

Hello, writers one and all. Yes, I know, long time no see. (grin) I hope you've been having a creative and productive few months.

The economy is looming large and scary for many of us these days, so here's something to keep in mind as we approach the holiday gifting season:

Editorial Ass: C[r]ash Flow (Or What Went Wrong in October in Book Publishing)

Permission of sorts, yes?  :-)  My Amazon habit is delighted.

Katey
Women-Ink.com
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17. Mourning the loss of two spaces. (& blog pause)

That's it, I'm switching over. I've been fond of using two spaces between sentences since I was a four-eyed kid in elementary school. (And if you've paid attention to my previous musical tastes, you can identify that decade.) I prefer the look of two spaces in manuscripts, and since I often read my clients' work before they submit it, I find two spaces marginally easier on my eyes when critiquing.

But for my own writing, it's become too annoying to switch back and forth from two (manuscripts, emails) to one (web work, e-newsletter). So I give up.

I will now be training myself to use one, lonely space after terminal punctuation. It's the end of an era for me. (sniff)

Although I'm switching so I can lessen my own writing frustration, whether you should do the same is up to you. I've judged many writing contests and never penalize entrants for spacing choices, as long as they're consistent about them. My agent uses two spaces, and a quick check of recent correspondence with editors shows that seven of those eleven New York editors also use two--so while there may be a trend toward using one space in publishing, it's hardly universal.

Bottom line: if a publisher specifies a preference about spaces between sentences, follow it when you submit there. Otherwise, no one much cares. Honest.

======

Now that Write Now Quotes is rolling (10 issues so far and going strong), I doubt I'll be posting here much. (Not, LOL, that this will be much of a change.) So if you'd like to hear consistent suggestions and advice from me, please join the free WNQ newsletter. I look forward to seeing you there!

Katey
Women-Ink.com

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18. I'm blogging today at Casablanca Authors...come visit!

Music I'm listening to: CNN.  (Yep, still a junkie.)


Today I'm hanging out with the authors from the Casablanca imprint of Sourcebooks.  My post lists ways to keep your butt parked in the Writer's Chair and be productive, even when you just don't wanna write.  Come read it and say hello!  (Whoops, almost forgot to include the URL there.  Ha!)

Katey

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19. New Year's Reminiscence

Music I'm listening to: Ricky Martin's Olé Olé Olé (a.k.a. "The Cup of Life"). An odd but perfect coincidence.

My reminiscence for New Year's Day 2008:

One year ago today, I was in the hospital with a deadly kidney stone and sepsis, and about to shake the Grim Reaper's hand. Today I'm happy, healthy, and fully hydrated--thanks to great medicine and support, and some serious determination on my part.

Take-away message: Have a goal? Don't let anything stop you.

I'm sending each of you wishes for a fantastic 2008, full of joy and success.

Keep writing! :)

Katey
Women-Ink.com

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20. Are you avoiding writing?

Music I'm listening to: Micaela by La Sonora Carruseles (yep, it's BOOGIE TIME)

If you find yourself saying "I want to get my book finished...but gee, I just don't feel like writing right now," check out this post by Theresa Ragan at the Wet Noodle Posse blog. Theresa writes about a great little trick that can get you back on track TODAY.

Keep writing!

Katey
Women-Ink.com

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21. Special deal on writing software for the Mac

Available today only: MacZot has a writing software program, StoryMill, available for a deep discount.

I haven't played with StoryMill yet--another Mac-based program, Scrivener, is my super-mega-ultra favorite writing program--but StoryMill's price break through MacZot makes it worth a timely mention.

Coming up: a post on my favorite software for writers (both Mac and PC).

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22. The best software for writers (Mac/PC)

This post has been a long time (and a lot of fun experimentation) in the making. If you're a writer and you live in the modern age, you probably want software that will make the writing process easier and more organized. Today's post includes some of my favorite little helpers, many of which have free demo versions you can try.

Take a look at the websites, screenshots and features, and then demo the ones you think would work for you. Writing software is a very personal thing, and software that suits one person well may just feel "off" to someone else. It's probably better to invest a little time now to see what suits the way YOU work best.

What I use:
I'm a HUGE fan of the Mac-only Scrivener. I prefer it to every other writing program I've ever tried, Mac or PC--and that says a lot. I was a happy beta tester during NaNoWriMo in 2005 and now rely on it for whole projects, not just my manuscripts. I adore Scrivener's structure and its many flexible features. An outline on the left side of the screen organizes your draft (and all your research, useful URLs, .pdf files...). In the right-hand pane you can do a split screen view (brilliant!) to look at your current scene plus a research document or two scenes at once. (Can’t remember what color the heroine’s dress was when she put it on four chapters ago? Go back and look, and the scene you’re working on is still visible!) Annotate/make comments, see your drafts in full screen mode, seamless exports to .rtf... I love, love, love Scrivener and recommend it to all my Mac-based coaching clients. It’s a beautifully thought-out program packed with useful features.

But different strokes for different folks; everyone has their own method of writing and their own preferences (not to mention computing platform), so I'm going to mention a few other apps worthy of a look. (And needless to say, there are many more good ones out there that aren't making it into this post.)

My PC-based clients are variously fond of:

- Liquid Story Binder, which (like Scrivener) can handle images in addition to text. In other words, if you find a great photo or image on the web, you can store that with your manuscript. (Great for research!) It seems to have a lot of other features handy for writers, too.

- PageFour, a newer program that seems to have a pleasant and uncluttered interface and a nifty Document Importer.

- WriteWay Pro. I liked WWP one a lot, and wrote some of my 2005 NaNoWriMo novel on it. (Yes, I was bilingual then.) WWP was created by the husband of a novelist, so it has a lot of smart features (character profiles, goals & productivity tracking, etc.) that novelists will like. Alas, the interface is pretty ugly (circa Win98), and there's no autosave, so you'd better save at regular intervals. (Which is always a good move, anyway.) The installation might seem a little tricky, since it requires an additional, free piece of software from Microsoft that you may or may not already have on your computer, so be sure to read the installation instructions.

- RoughDraft is free, has a good reputation and is well-liked by a lot of writers. It doesn't have the most modern interface, but it's been around for a few years--and being free, it's certainly practical.

Several others worth a mention: Writer's Blocks, WriteItNow, and
PowerWriter
.

Have fun exploring and seeing what kind of interface feels good and intuitive to you. Here are some questions that might help as you look through these programs:

(1) Does it organize manuscripts in a way that will be easy for you to find scenes/sections, add to them, and move them around as needed?

(2) Will it let you name scenes/sections (or otherwise identify them) so you can find them quickly?

(3) Does the program make it easy to save your work and back it up?

(4) Does it feel fast (so you won't waste time when working with a big manuscript)?

(5) Are there any special/unique features of this program that would be particularly handy for you and the way you like to work?

(6) Do you enjoy the layout and feel of the program (since you'll be looking at it a LOT)?

I look forward to hearing what you prefer, so feel free to discuss your choice in the comments! Have fun and enjoy exploring.

Katey
Women-Ink.com

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23. I've been nudged

Music I'm listening to: "Blue Gene Vincent" by Havana 3AM

*Ahem* Thanks for nudging me, Mary R. :) Mary helped me notice I haven't been hanging around my own blog since March. Ouch. Right, then, I'd better get back into the groove!


First off, I've been contemplating a longish post about the Amazon Kindle. Yes, I now own one of these funky lil' e-book readers, and it's changed my thoughts about publishing's future in a BIG way. Not that the Kindle is all sweetness and light, mind you, and there are some drawbacks to it that give me major pause--but overall, I think the Kindle *or something like it* could thrust the slower-moving, slow-adapting parts of the publishing industry into quite a, um, situation. While I ponder my swirling thoughts, does anyone else out there have one of these goodies?

Second, one of the reasons for my extended absence is my latest project. Ta-da! (Imagine the curtains opening.) For all you busy writers who could use a little nudge yourselves, my Write Now Quotes is a short email newsletter featuring a single motivational quote each week and some brief commentary tailored for the writerly soul. I plan to get the next issue out tomorrow evening, so if you'd like to get it, best sign up now!

More to come in future posts here, including my current irritation with a previous love (Thesaurus.com, a website that has peeved me so greatly I won't even give it a link), and a gleeful party for yet another client who's sold her book. (Waving to Leigh--gal, drink some Chick-fil-A lemonade for me!) Meanwhile, I hope that despite my recent quiet, y'all are out there happily writing away. Right?

RIGHT?

*cracking whip*

:)

Katey
Women-Ink.com

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24. Speaking of my father-in-law...

Music I'm listening to: "Sleeping Satellite" by Tasmin Archer

My hubby just sent me an interesting web page. Vampire folk, this one's for you. (Plus, that's my father-in-law starring in the video, LOL!)

Katey
Women-Ink.com

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25. RWA National

Music I'm listening to: Um, CNN. [me=news junkie]

Preparing for the Romance Writers of America national conference is always a ton of fun, combined with a smattering of stress. (Have my coaching brochures arrived? Biz cards? Where's my favorite name tag holder, and that great pair of ankle boots? Is my laptop still acting up? Gah, I still have to get my hair cut!) I look forward to seeing those of you who'll be attending. Say hi if you see me!

Meanwhile, here's a scary article (in an editor's own words) about what happens to your lovingly crafted submissions. Warning: not for the faint of heart.

Katey Coffing, Ph.D.
Women-Ink.com

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