Friday, November 21, 2008

Writers' Symposium Ezine Issue #5

The Writers’ Symposium Ezine

“Helping Writers Write”
Issue #5, November 2008
The Madness and Karma Issue

View beautiful full color versions with dozens of color pictures or download the PDF with all the good stuff of previous issues at

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From the Editor: Paul Genesse
Featured Author Bio: Jim C. Hines
Featured Content: How to Drive a Writer Mad by Jim C. Hines
Featured Content: Karma for Multiple Jobs by Janet Deaver-Pack
New Releases from Writers’ Symposium Members
Current Releases From the Writers’ Symposium
List of Current Writers’ Symposium Members & Contact Info
Final Thought

From the Editor

Finishing a manuscript and selling a book is a long journey. The editing process goes on and on, often driving the writer and their family quite mad. In this issue two writers share their very personal thoughts on what the writing life is like and give tips on how to survive it. Janet Deaver-Pack, editor, author, and one of my mentors, describes how to juggle writing and your personal life in her article, “Karma for Multiple Jobs.” Author and friend Jim C. Hines details the fun that ensues after a manuscript is handed over to your agent or publisher. I know you’ll enjoy Jim’s thoughts on “How to Drive A Writer Mad,” which gives an insightful look into what really happens when you think the book is done.

Paul Genesse, Editor and Author of THE DRAGON HUNTERS—releasing May of 2009

Featured Author: Jim C. Hines

Jim began writing in the early 90s, while working on a degree in psychology from Michigan State University. His first professional sale was the award-winning BLADE OF THE BUNNY which took first place in the 1998 Writers of the Future competition and was published in WRITERS OF THE FUTURE XV.
For many years, he focused on short fiction. His work has appeared in REALMS OF FANTASY, TURN THE OTHER CHICK, SWORD AND SORCERESS, and over thirty other magazines and anthologies. During this time, he also picked up a Masters degree in English from Eastern Michigan University.
His first published fantasy novel was GOBLN QUEST, a funny, popular tale about a nearsighted goblin runt named Jig. Thanks to the work of his wonderful agent, the book has since been translated into several other languages, and was picked up by DAW Books, along with sequels GOBLIN HERO and GOBLIN WAR. He's now working on a new series about a trio of butt-kicking princesses. Look for THE STEPSISTER SCHEME in January of 2009.
Jim lives in mid-Michigan with his wife and children, who have always shown remarkable tolerance for his bizarre and obsessive writing habits.

Comment on the article on the Writers’ Symposium Blog:

Featured Content: How to Drive a Writers Mad by Jim C. Hines

Actually, driving a writer mad isn’t that difficult. We’re all mad here. But that’s beside the point.

You know, it’s amazing how many times a manuscript gets read before it goes to print. (Note—I’m talking about commercial publishing with a big house here. The things I describe may or may not hold true for other publishers or other types of publishing.)

Take THE STEPSISTER SCHEME, to pick a not-so-random example that comes out in exactly two months, not that I’m counting.

I wrote, read, rewrote, and re-read that book a number of times before turning it in. Then it was read by my former agent. He gave it to my editor, who also read it. While they’re reading it, I shoot copies to a few other writers, hoping for some blurbs. Several of them were kind enough to also point out a few problem spots in the book. Later, the editor calls me up with revision requests. In this case, my agent ended up leaving the agency, so now my new agent was reading the book. New agent e-mails me some corrections. I rewrite it yet again, fixing more problems, then send it back. My editor reads it again and approves the revisions. Editor passes it along to the copy-editor. Copy-editor fixes more goofs. Then page proofs arrive, and I read through them yet again. People at the publisher are doing the same thing. More corrections are marked and sent back.

That’s a lot of people pouring a lot of energy into making sure my book is as good and polished as it can possibly be. Page proofs are accepted, and the book is now being printed.

Fast-forward a week. The book sells to Germany. Yay! My German translator dives right in on the translation. Yay! German translator e-mails me to ask, “Did you mean for this and this to happen, because you seem to be contradicting yourself. And also what about this other detail?”

Son of a crap! These are very minor goofs that won’t affect the plot, and obviously most people will read right over them, but . . .

Another friend from DAW starts reading the book, and points out two other issues.

No book is ever perfect. There are mistakes in the goblin books. There are mistakes in just about every book you'll ever read, whether you notice them or not. The more eyes, and the more skilled the proofreaders, the more problems you can catch and fix. I know this, and I know a few tiny problems aren’t going to ruin the book. We’re not talking about the small press book I picked up this summer, which had at least four typos on the first page. Good editors and proofreaders are well worth it!

And yet we’re all human, and things still slip through. My only consolation is that if all goes well, the book will sell out and go back for another printing, at which point I'll be able to get a few more corrections made. For now, I’ll be over here obsessing and talking myself down from the “Everyone’s going to throw the book away because of this stupid little mistake and the whole series will turn into a big black hole of suck-ledge.”

Being a writer is such fun :-)

This originally appeared in Jim’s Live Journal. Please check out his funny and insightful blog for more at:

Praise for Jim’s Books:

“THE STEPSISTER SCHEME is not your Grandma’s fairy tale. Action, intrigue, romance, action, treachery, and did I mention action? These princesses will give Charlie’s Angels a serious run for the money, and leave 'em in the dust. Read it!”

-Esther Friesner, author of NOBODY’S PRINCESS

THE STEPSISTER SCHEME “What a romp, both light and dark, sometimes sexy, and along the way occasionally quite brutal . . . an amazing gallop to save a prince, thwart a witch, rescue a kingdom, and turn fairy tale conventions upside down in the process.”

-Jane Yolen, author of BRIAR ROSE and two-time Nebula winner

“In GOBLIN HERO, as in GOBLIN QUEST, Hines recognizes that wisdom is most often common-sense and that mouthing off to the big guy with the sword is a very bad idea.”
-Tanya Huff, 

RED’s TALE by Jim C. Hines

Is it good to be bad? Or is it bad to be good? This snarky and fun retelling of the classic fairy tale 'Little Red Riding Hood and The Big Bad Wolf' will have you laughing out loud as you turn the pages.


Some of you who know me have suspected this for years. I’m admitting it: I’m a workaholic. I never seem to be comfortable doing less than two jobs. Right now, I’ve got three. Good thing that two of them are flexible.

Most authors require a career that supports writing. That’s two jobs right there. And the individuals who add another, particularly on the creative side, are downright nuts. Yup, this makes me not only crazy, but almost an expert on both juggling and stress. I’m therefore passing along some tips I’ve developed to keep from going off the deep end.

1. Love what you’re doing. If you don’t, all the hours you’re putting in are for nothing. Love is the aspect that will keep your head together and your energy going during times you really need it. It’s what makes you the dynamic creative person you are. If you use love to create, that will not only stimulate more energy, but will also make your work better.

2. Listen to your Muse, and focus your efforts on each thing you do with completion in mind. You’ll get more done this way than jumping from unfinished project to unfinished project.

3. If you have a close relationship, make certain that person understands that work makes you tick. I’ve collected a lot of stories over the years about creatives whose partners couldn’t appreciate the time they devoted to their work. In most cases this drives them apart, causes arguments, and engenders bad karma that sucks away creative energy. My mother (may her soul rest now not having to worry about her crazed daughter all the time) always asked, “Now why are you doing THAT?” She had no idea what drove me, and no real interest in finding out why. It was all a mystery to her. Obviously, we never got along. Such breeding grounds for ill humor and contempt are bad. Weed them out whenever possible. Talk to your partner or house mate about your drives, and establish a mutual understanding. Most certainly, the other person or people in your life have drives you need to understand, too.

4. Establish a specific place for each of your work sites. My writing gets done in my office, where my computer and my printer live. My knitting is accomplished on the couch in the living room under the Ott light, or next to the window in the kitchen. Because the energy required by each job may be different, it’s always good to have separate places where you can infuse that area with the strength and the vitality you need to get those specific things done. If you work at home and have only one room for everything you do, designate different walls as particular work areas. Don’t confuse one type of work with another.

5. Take breaks. Wow, this one’s difficult. We all know that creative types get immersed in our projects, and sometimes it’s hours before our minds surface again in the mundane world. Sure, you have to stay with it when the words are flowing, or the designs are coming so fast your fingers are a blur. Making tea is great. It requires you to get up and stretch when you refill your cup or warm it up. Pets are terrific: dogs require walking or going out, and cats demand their own bits of your attention. (I have to tell Shannivere he’s the most handsome blue cat in the whole world every day. This makes him purr, and gives me a little break.) Very often, returning to the screen or the design after a few minutes respite will re-focus your energy and electrify your mind. There’s more oxygen in your “little grey cells” after you’ve moved around, which assists your thinking. You’ll accomplish more after the break than before. Another type of break is changing from one type of work to another. Allow yourself a few minutes to settle in, get your mind focused, and start.

6. Choose different types of work that either support or are completely different from one another. Some people work better when their jobs are diverse; with others, similarity counts. Consider your energy: it’s not a bottomless well. Some creatives get a charge out of several different things, while others must have some similarity. Learn and embrace what works for you.

7. Be firm, but gentle with yourself. Don’t overdo it. We who are lucky enough to have home-based jobs may schedule more hours than the folks who have travel-to offices. It’s not uncommon to hear of freelancers putting in 16-18 hour days. Fine, but keep watch on your health. If you don’t, get your partner or a good friend to supervise that part of your life. Overwork for extended periods can minimize your output and leave your immune system open to viruses. Jean Rabe just had this happen. She’s recovering, but it will take time, rest, and a lot of antibiotics.

8. Work until you’re tired, but not exhausted. Fatigue that builds up over time can be a major player against what you need to accomplish. A few days or nights going to bed exhausted are good, but don’t force this into a habit. Fundamental fatigue you can’t rid yourself of can lead to health problems and diminishing results, especially when you’re not feeling your best. Figure out practices that allow you to work a little longer. Feeling as though you could put in another hour or two when you decide to quit for the day is always good.

9. Admitting you’re tired is fine. If there’s a lot going on in your life, you WILL be tired. Embrace the fact, and go on. Pushing away tiredness seems to make it intent on getting attention. It’s there, so use it. Infuse it with energy. Make it a dynamic partner in your work rather than a debility. Remember to buttress your tiredness with joy, which creates more energy than it uses.

My secretary cat Brika has just informed me that I have to wrap up this article. I’m going to a convention this weekend in Chicago, and next weekend I have a craft show at the Public Broadcasting Station in a suburb of Milwaukee that requires lots of gorgeous shawls and scarves. Meantime, I’m working at the local library, and re-writing parts of the book Bruce Heard and I just finished and are now trying to sell. There’s nothing to do here.


Please visit Janet online at:

New Novels by Symposium Authors

CATOPOLIS, Edited by Janet Deaver-Pack
Seventeen original stories about the “city of cats.”
Set in a world that exists on the same plane as humans, yet is hidden from us, CATOPOLIS introduces readers to an assortment of cats, ranging from a feline Seer who must take destiny into her own paws to defeat a dictatorial tomcat a black cat who can call upon the powers of the “big cats” to wage a war against a cat who would be the ins and outs of cat politics and the perils of using mice as a cat burglar looking for a musical treasure for his “boss.”
Featuring stories by Richard Lee Byers, Paul Genesse, Don Bingle, Jean Rabe, Marc Tassin, Elizabeth Vaughan and more.

THE STEPSISTER SCHEME by Jim C. Hines. What would happen if an author went back to the darker themes of the original fairy tales for his plots, and then crossed the Disney princesses with Charlie’s Angels? What’s delivered is THE STEPSISTER SCHEME—a whole new take on what happened to Cinderella and her prince after the wedding. And with Jim C. Hines penning the tale readers can bet it won’t be “and they lived happily ever after.”

“These princesses will give ‘Charlie’s Angels’ a serious run for the money, and leave ‘em in the dust.” –Esther Friesner, author of NOBODY’S PRINCESS
Releasing January 6, 2009

GREENSWORD is a dark comedy about the environment, extremism, stupid criminals, and the lengths to which people will go to avoid getting a real job.
They’re about to save the world; they just don’t want to get caught doing it.
Says Hugo and Nebula Award Winner, Robert J. Sawyer: “Science fiction has always been a great vehicle for biting satire and social commentary­­from H. G. Wells’ THE TIME MACHINE right on up to Donald Bingle’s engrossing, GREENSWORD, Bingle is a terrific writer.”
Releasing January 21, 2009

UNHOLY by Richard Lee. Byers
I saw something 
than I’ve ever seen before.
Something truly
I understand now what drove Fastrin mad.
Why he was willing to slaughter us all.

The formerly green fields lie in war-torn ruins. The formerly living populace is undead. And the formerly brilliant necromancer, the mastermind behind the civil war that drove the ruling council into exile, appears to have gone insane. But rumor spreads of a reason behind his randomness -- a reason all survivors of Thay must rally against.
Releasing February 3, 2009

DEADER STILL by Anton Strout
“Following Simon’s adventures is like being the pinball in an especially antic game, but it's well worth the wear and tear.”
-Charlaine Harris, author of the SOOKIE STACKHOUSE series.
It’s hard to defeat evil on a budget. Just ask Simon Canderous.

It’s been 737 days since the Department of Extraordinary Affairs’ last vampire incursion, but that streak appears to have ended when a boat full of dead lawyers is found in the Hudson River. Using the power of psychometry—the ability to divine the history of an object by touching it—agent Simon Canderous discovers that the booze cruise was crashed by something that sucked all the blood out of the litigators. Now, his workday may never end—until his life does.


DAY TWO: THE WISE MAN’S FEAR by Patrick Rothfuss

“There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man.”

An escalating rivalry with a powerful member of the nobility forces Kvothe to leave the University and seek his fortune.

In The Wise Man’s Fear Kvothe takes his first steps on the path of the hero and learns how difficult life can be when a man becomes a legend in his own time.

Releasing April 7, 2009

WHITE STAR by Elizabeth Vaughan

The Lady High Priestess Evelyn, known as Evie to her friends, is a healer, dedicated to using her magic in the service of the goddess to aid others and give strength where it is needed. Orrin Blackheart couldn’t be more different. With his black armor, a black name and a blacker reputation, he’s been feared and hated in equal parts. So on his defeat and capture in battle, the Goddesses insistence that Evie saves him from a death sentence astonishes them both—as does the growing attraction between them. But in saving Orrin Evie condemns herself to a prohibition on her magic and a penance posting on the edges of the land, while to retain his salvation Orrin must battle a spreading plague across the land. Fate clearly has plans for them both—but to fulfill them, both must survive the perils ahead.
Releasing April 7, 2009

THE DRAGON HUNTERS, Book Two of the Iron Dragon Series

On this hunt, you give up everything.

The last of an order of dragon hunters must track down the dragon king’s daughter and stop her from getting the Crystal Eye, an ancient artifact that will cause the destruction of their world.

Releasing May 15, 2009
Read chapter one at

Writers’ Symposium Member Current Releases

DEATH MARCH –Jean Rabe. Escaping from the slave pens of a Dark Knight mining camp was no easy feat, but what awaits Direfang, a former hobgoblin slave who has become the reluctant general of a growing goblin army is every bit as perilous.

BLACKSTAFF TOWER—Steven Schend. Young friends stumble across a terrifying conspiracy that holds the heir to the Blackstaff, the defender of the city of Waterdeep, in terrible danger.

IMAGINARY FRIENDS. We’ve all had them. We’ve all needed them. In this fun fantasy anthology, readers are given thirteen variations on what kinds of friends come in handy. Featuring stories by Jean Rabe, Don Bingle, Tim Waggoner, Paul Genesse and Jim C. Hines.

CROSS COUNTY by Tim Waggoner
When surviving gets this hard, death comes easy...

CROSS COUNTY secrets run deep. Settlers first came here hundreds of years ago, taking the land from local tribes sworn to guard its dark secrets. The Cross family now holds the power in the region. When a grisly murderer, hearkening back to a series of killing from years ago, shakes the community, it's up to the local sheriff to get to the bottom of things before it's too late.

Part murder mystery, part supernatural terror, CROSS COUNTY will appeal to fans of Greg Iles and Patricia Cornell, as well as horror fans who love Stephen King and Dean Koontz.

DAGGER-STAR by Elizabeth Vaughan

After captivating readers with her CHRONICLE OF THE WARLANDS trilogy, USA Today Bestselling author, Elizabeth Vaughan now returns to that world with a beguiling tale of daggers and destiny, a cold and beautiful mercenary known as Red Gloves, and Josiah, a lone fighter emerging from the torched fields and razed farms of his homeland. All Josiah knows about the mysterious woman is her dagger-star birthmark, a sign that she is destined to free the people from a ruthless usurper's reign of terror.

DAGGER-STAR was released in April from Berkly Sensation. Visit for all the details.

THE GOLDEN CORD, By Paul Genesse. A hunter must leave behind the woman he loves, give up all hope of survival, as he is forced to guide his most hated enemies to the lair of the dragon king.

“The plot is well constructed, the characters are wonderful, and the middle-ages setting creates an ominous feel. The cliffhanger ending will leave readers eager for more. BOOK ONE OF THE IRON DRAGON SERIES is a rich and compelling fantasy full of adventure, danger, dragons, battles, revenge, magic, and more.”

“. . . promises to unlock a realm of magic and warfare in a unique world of cloud-bound lands and a mysterious Underworld.”

“THE GOLDEN CORD is indeed a hellishly good read.”

Watch a video about THE GOLDEN CORD and download the first chapter for free at .

UNDER COVER OF DARKNESS, edited by Julie Czerneda and Jana Paniccia. The Prix Award Winning Anthology featuring SHADOW OF THE SCIMITAR by Janet Deaver-Pack. From the true role of the Freemasons to Chronographers who steal pieces of time to an assassin hired by a group that reweaves the threads of history, here are fourteen imaginative tales of time and space and realms beyond our own-all watched over, preserved, or changed by those who work covertly under cover of darkness.

Writers’ Symposium Members—Visit them on their sites or on the W.S. Blog

Jean Rabe
Paul Genesse
Don Bingle
Brad Beaulieu
Anton Strout
John Helfers
Pat Rothfuss
Luke Johnson
Kelly Swails
Tim Waggoner
Elizabeth Vaughan
Marc Tassin
Richard Lee Byers
Steve Schend
Janet Deaver-Pack
Daniel “Doc” Myers
Sabrina Klein
Kerrie Hughes
Linda Baker
Chris Pierson
Jim C. Hines
Jennifer Brozek

download the issue for the missing email addresses of members

Final Thought
As you can tell by this ezine, the members have been very busy lately writing books. There are lot of novels coming out and a vast quantity already released. We like to keep busy, but one of us has been too busy. Our rock and mentor, Jean Rabe ended up in the hospital. Thankfully, she’s back at home now.

All of us in the Symposium, and I know all of you readers, wish her the very best as she recovers from a serious case of pneumonia. “WE LOVE YOU JEAN!” and please enjoy a nap or two, just not during the Packers game.

Now the rest of you, get back to creating the best work of fiction that the world has ever seen.

Paul Genesse, editor

Thank you for reading the ezine. Please forward it to all your friends interested in writing or reading. Please visit the Writers Symposium Blog for more information on writing—and to interact with the members of the symposium. Thanks again!

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