Reading on a Budget: Book Swaps!

Hey Y’all,

If your wallet is still recovering from the holidays, or, like me, you’re a savvy shopper, have I got some great ideas for you! Reading can become an expensive habit, but what would we do without this joy?! Enter book swaps. If you’ve never participated in one, a book swap is pretty much just what it sounds like:

n: “…Practiced among book groups, friends and colleagues at work, it provides an inexpensive way for people to exchange books, find out about new books and obtain a new book to read without having to pay. Swaps occur between individuals, without central distribution or warehousing…”

Book Swaps Across the World!

It’s just like trading clothes with your sister or b.f.f.! True, swapping books has been happening for a while, but now there are more and more organized book swappers with an online presence. E-book lovers, don’t fret, whether you prefer print or digital, there’s a book swap for all readers! I’ve compiled a few swapsites for all you avid, budget-conscious readers.

Meetup: If you prefer to see the books, meet swappers, and chit chat a bit, then Meetup might be the search engine for you. Meetup is “the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face.” All you have to do is type in “book swap” and your zipcode, and Meetup spits out the website for your local book swap.

BookMooch: If you’ve completed a book and want to use it as currency, BookMooch is the place to go! You earn a point every time you mail a book to a “Moocher,” and in turn, you can get any book you want from other “Moochers”. Once you’ve read a book, you can keep it forever or put it back into BookMooch for someone else, as you wish. You only have to pay for shipping books to “Moochers;” that’s it, no joining fee or anything! The only costs you incur are the mailing costs. They even include an option to give your earned points to different charities. Check out their website for more details!

eBookfling: If y’all have an e-reader, don’t worry, you can still swap, borrow and lend. eBookfling lets you swap, borrow, or lend ebooks using your e-reader device. Like other swapsites, it’s free to join. All you have to do is sign up, list the books you’d like to swap, earn credits, and start reading!

The whole swap mentality is pretty cool, and I feel like I’ve been living under a rock to have missed this trend! Also, if you prefer, many major e-retailers also have swapping programs. I’m sure I’ve missed some other creative swap ideas. What do y’all think—what are the other thrifty ways to get your read on?

Let’s Make a Book: The Production Process

Happy New Year Y’all!

I hope 2012 has been good to you so far, and you’re keeping up those resolutions. With a new year comes new titles and authors. In case you didn’t know, January is National Book Month. What better way to continue our kickoff of 2012, than an insider’s look into the publishing world! I’m taking you on a behind-the-scenes journey into the Production Department at Dorchester, and specifically, into my job as Production Assistant!

The role of the Production Department varies in each publishing house; however, one thing remains constant: we make the books! Each department will claim they are the most important, but we all know it is the Production Department who is the MVP :). For a more detailed overview of the traditional publishing process, I turn again to my man, author and former agent, Nathan Bransford.

As Production Assistant at Dorchester, I help with the managing editorial duties for each title. Basically, once our Editorial staff acquires a title, and the Editorial Director and author collaborate on changes, they submit the corrected and finalized manuscript to us! Keep in mind, however, that the editors and authors can take months perfecting the product, so the schedule operates much like a revolving door idea—as soon as one title moves to the next step, another title fills its spot.

Once our department receives the manuscript, more tweaking occurs—copyediting, proofreading, and 1P & 2P (1st & 2nd pass galleys). Here you carefully examine the details (both grammar and aesthetics) with a fine-tooth comb. You are the last set of eyes on this book before it’s sent to the printer or converter…no pressure! The cover art is completed and finalized concurrently.

So, from concept to product, it will take close to a calendar year for an acquired manuscript to reach your bookshelves or e-reader. I hope y’all enjoy the new year while the busy folks here at Dorchester look ahead to spring, summer, and even fall 2012. Keep a lookout for more of our terrifying horrors, heart-racing thrillers, and captivating romances.

NaNoWriMo: Oh, What Fun!

Hey Y’all,

It’s official! NaNoWriMo is over! It has been a crazy journey, but a fantastic adventure through and through. I’m still  happy with my progress, even though I didn’t meet the 50,000 word count goal to achieve an official NaNoWriMo badge.

I made it through many of my speedbumps, aka Modern Family, and made some new friends along the way, through the NaNoWriMo forums. Many people thought I was crazy for taking on this challenge—a 50,000 word novel in thirty days—but everyone still encouraged me to push forward. In the end, I was my own worst enemy. Old, bad habits sprouted up again, and it seemed like I always found something better to do. Believe it or not, I actually hunkered down over the Thanksgiving holiday. I completed a bulk of my novel with the football games as background noise. I didn’t do much Black Friday shopping, so that freed up some time to write as well. I met some personal goals through this process. I organized the plot, developed the main and supporting characters, and (pretty much) adhered to my schedule. I feel great! I’ve never participated in a challenge like this before, and I have to admit, it’s a nice feeling.

If I could do it all over again, I would…on one condition: I participate with a friend. I’m a social butterfly, and truly enjoy people’s company. In college, I was like a fly to the yellow light with study groups. I tend to perform better on team sports than individual. Basically, I like being around people. If I had a friend participating in NaNoWriMo as well, I’d have someone to commiserate and laugh with…sometimes at the same time. The NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program has a fun widget to challenge your friends; perhaps I’ll use this next year.

One final link for all you aspiring authors—Writer’s Relief is an author submission service that debates the good, bad, and ugly of all that is NaNoWriMo. As a former teacher and a Pisces, I want to encourage and nurture the free-spirited nature associated with writing. While NaNoWriMo presents a difficult challenge, it also presents a bigger purpose: promote creativity. Even if, like me, you didn’t reach 50,000 words, you’ve got a jumping off point. You’ve got a start, and that’s the toughest part. I will come back to my story about Teagan. I don’t know when I’ll return to writing it, but I have a clearer idea of what will develop, and now all I need is some more downtime.

Until next year! It’s been real y’all!

Word Count: 39,008!

NaNoWriMo: Tips to Cross the Finish Line!

Happy belated Thanksgiving, y’all!

The infamous Turducken!

Perhaps you’re reading this while waiting on line at your favorite retailer for their Black Friday deals. Maybe, like me, you’re reading this while lying on the couch, half asleep in a turkey coma—still trying to recuperate from indulging in too much fried turkey or Turducken, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie—or for all you vegetarians out there, too much Tofurky®. Well, fellow NaNos, you and I have got to snap out of it! We’ve got writing to do! There are only five days left until our deadline! Let’s do it to it!

I’ve cracked the whip and buckled down. My last update expressed my concerns with finishing the NaNoWriMo challenge. With the help and support of my friends, family, colleagues, and NaNoWriMo community, I’ve gone into a writing frenzy. I’ve put off some of my favorite shows…only the ones that show reruns online :). But, I’m happy to report that I’m getting closer to beating the clock! Plus, I’m not just tossing words on the page (well, computer screen). I’m actually developing the characters and plot. Now, my only problem is…how do I end this? I want the ending to be memorable and unique. Maybe my problem is that I don’t know what is going to happen yet. Wasn’t it J.K. Rowling who said she knew exactly how the Harry Potter series was going to end? Apparently, I’ve made a rookie NaNoWriMo mistake. I’m toying with the idea of stretching my novel into a series; but, it took me nearly 25 days to simply get going on this novel. I can only imagine if I attempted a series! It would then be called NaNoWriYr! Any and all suggestions from the NaNo community are greatly appreciated!

How cute are these Bugle® cornucopias!

During this entire process, I’ve been wishing there was more time. “There aren’t enough hours in the day,” I’d complain. So, for my final piece of motivation I turn back the clock. As Winston Churchill said, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” In the Churchill spirit, I’ve found thirty NaNoWriMo tips from last year. I wish I knew about #14 and #20 before I started all these shenanigans! Maybe I’ll have to start catching up on #25, ha! Anywho, I thought these thirty tips were helpful, encouraging, and funny. What do y’all think? Do you have any other pieces of advice for our last stint in NaNoWriMo?

This is our last leg, our final hurrah! So, let’s put on our thinking caps and bust out the quill pens! Homestretch, here we come!

Word Count: 31,717 and counting!

NaNoWriMo Update: Day 18

Hey All,

We’re halfway to the NaNoWriMo deadline! I can’t believe it! While excitement is still in the air during this marathon writing session, I’m gathering that other NaNos are running into similar obstacles as I am. The task of writing a 50,000 word novel is a daunting one. At the beginning of this process, I thought I could manage work, life, and writing. I scheduled when I was going to write, where, and which part of my plot outline I would tackle each day. Apparently, my eyes are bigger than my stomach, or, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew…and all other applicable clichés. Or, there’s my grandmother’s theory: I don’t have any willpower other than when it comes to football. So, I confess—I’m not meeting my word count goal, and it’s all cable TV’s fault!

No, I can’t blame my TV. I can only blame myself. Well, I can blame the Giants for playing some really close and exciting games these past couple of weeks. It doesn’t help that the G-Men play the Eagles this weekend to continue their domination of the NFC East!

During this writing process, I’ve had flashbacks to my time in graduate school. You really have to be disciplined in order to succeed in NaNoWriMo. I procrastinated on some projects while I was in school, and that trait is rearing its ugly head during my writing now. So, to get myself out of a funk, I scour the Internet for fellow NaNos’ encouragement. My go-to-guy, Nathan Bransford, had a guest writer on his blog, author Shawn Thomas Odyssey. The post’s title, Success and Motivation, really struck a chord with me, as Shawn asks fellow writers to “take a moment every so often to remind ourselves what we are doing all of this for.” My goal for NaNoWriMo was to finally get a chance to write something fun. I want to enjoy the process and feel joy after accomplishing this goal. This has reminded me why I started all this madness. I feel rejuvenated, and ready to continue.

The Dorchester team has also been über supportive. Hannah even loaned me her writer’s block! There are even more people out there taking on the challenge with encouraging stories. Check out some of the inspiring stories of these Northwestern University students taking the NaNoWriMo challenge! I’m excited to keep on keepin’ on! Wish me luck NaNos!

Word Count: 13,488 and counting!

My NaNoWriMo Adventure Continues!

Hey All,

We’re officially eleven days into NaNoWriMo! Wow, I can’t believe we’re almost to the halfway point! At first, I didn’t have a clue as to what I was going to write about. I polled friends and family, and received some crazy, and some legitimate ideas. Apparently, procrastination is my middle name, because I finally settled on a protagonist and genre the night before NaNoWriMo began. I’d call that cutting it close! But, I still made it. Now, let’s see how Teagan, a high school freshman caught up in her bestie’s lies, deceit, and eventually murder, will fare in my novel.

While I love writing my novel, it’s been difficult to balance work and writing. It doesn’t help that I have to write during the best month of football (Go Giants!), and when all of my favorite sitcoms are on (Glee and Modern Family). I’ve really had to hunker down, but I’m proud to report that I have 9,028 words written! Luckily, I have a long commute to and from work, so I jot down ideas, important plot points, and sometimes paragraphs in my notebook. Yes, I’ve gotten quite a few glances and stares as I scribble furiously on the subway. Something tells me these NYC commuters have seen weirder, though.

I haven’t averaged the 1,670 words a day, like I wanted. Luckily the NaNoWriMo community offers many different ways to motivate its participants. Check out NaNoWriMo’s Pep Talks for encouragement from authors. These talks really helped push me. Also, there are events all over the country for participants to attend. There’s nothing like a face-to-face writing session to keep the creativity flowing. For those of you who can’t get to a NaNoWriMo session, check out some of Nathan Branford’s motivational tips—he’s an agent and author based out of San Francisco.

I’m determined to meet the goal of 50,000 words in thirty days. I’ve got a game plan set. I foresee some issues arising once it gets closer to Thanksgiving. Between fried turkey and Turkey Bowl football, I probably won’t be doing too much writing. So, I’m hoping for a couple of rainy weekends because it gives me an excuse to stay inside and write! I’ve stumbled across a few roadblocks, but luckily the NaNoWriMo community is tight-knit and rallies behind one another. How do y’all remain motivated during NaNoWriMo? Leave some comments here to share with the Dorchester Community. Until next time, NaNos…keep writing!

Thriller Thursdays: From the Set of House of the Rising Sun

The gritty, action-packed House of the Rising Sun continues to blow readers, and now audiences, away! The critically-acclaimed debut thriller from former special agent Chuck Hustmyre is now a major motion picture starring Hollywood heavyweights Danny Trejo (Sons of Anarchy), Dominic Purcell (Prison Break), and Amy Smart (Crank). Check out these pics from the set, read an excerpt from the book, watch the trailer, and share our enthusiasm for this thriller success! And if you’re looking for the perfect stocking-stuffer for that thriller lover in your family, House of the Rising Sun is available in trade paperback, e-book, and Blu-ray/DVD!

 

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