Archive for January 30th, 2013

January 30, 2013

Dear Lucky Agent contest


Just in case anyone is interested, the Dear Lucky Agent  contest is open through tomorrow.

This time around, it focuses on young adult and science fiction.

Read more about it here.

And here is a quick idea of what the rules are, taken from the web site, in case you’re not able to make it over to the Writer’s Digest site:


E-mail entries to Please paste everything. No attachments.


The first 150-200 words of your unpublished, book-length work of your sci-fi novel or young adult novel. You must include a contact e-mail address with your entry and use your real name. Also, submit the title of the work and a logline (one-sentence description of the work) with each entry.

Please note: To be eligible to submit, you must mention this contest twice through any social media. Please provide a social media link or Twitter handle or screenshot or blog post URL, etc., with your offical e-mailed entry so the judge and I can verify eligibility. Some previous entrants could not be considered because they skipped this step! Simply spread the word twice through any means and give us a way to verify you did; a tinyURL for this link/contest for you to easily use is An easy way to notify me of your sharing is to include my Twitter handle @chucksambuchino somewhere in your mention(s) if using Twitter. And if you are going to solely use Twitter as your 2 times, please wait 1 day between mentions to spread out the notices, rather than simply tweeting twice back to back. Thanks.

Happy Contesting!

January 30, 2013

Gateways: a fun escape

I won a copy of Jessica Schaub's Gateways!

I finally had a few moments to finish reading Gateways, by Jessica Schaub.

One of the things I liked best about Gateways was the detailed description. It was easy to get a feel for the varied surroundings because they were so well laid out, and there were many different settings to explore this way.

Beyond that, I was pleasantly surprised by sentences that made me curious and then rewarded me with more information further in the book. I felt like I was continually learning something about this world. Completely enjoyable.

While I hope the following doesn’t give away too much, here are some of my favorite ideas from the book:

  • From page 52:

“No,” Worthmere said. “I have never understood the idea of magic. No one can make something happen without a divine force already present. Mages are able to communicate on a higher level with natural elements around them.”

  • Page 55: the idea of terraces is explained–they are other levels of the original world. I was struck with this idea earlier in the book and was curious about it. Reading about it here felt like finding a gem hidden in the back of a closet. It was rewarding–and I felt rewarded again on page 77, when I learned even more about terraces.
  • The entire dream scene, around page 99, intrigued me–especially when the main character received the locket. Again, all of this was a complete surprise to me, which made it fun to read.
  • Page 134-ish: the Dream Walker.
  • From page 144:

Anna stopped walking and turned to face Victoria. Her face was shadowed with…fear? Doubt? Whatever was troubling Anna, Victoria felt it too. “I don’t know. But whatever we are dealing with, Victoria, you need to keep the Creator first and foremost in your mind. In your heart. Protect your soul from the influences of those who would use evil.”

  • The battle scenes around page 197
  • From page 216:

Victoria grabbed Bobby’s arms, understanding the depth of the situation. “They destroyed the painting.”

Bobby nodded.

“How do we get back home?” Tucker asked.

“I don’t know,” Bobby said. “But I want to know who wants to keep us here.”

  • Page 247-ish: more dream walking
  • Page 298–when Victoria breaks down the wall that keeps her from her soul garden
  • From page 315:

“To believe in the Grandfather’s Weapon is like believing everything you read: King Arthur, The Odeyssey. They are stories with thin lines of truth, we just don’t know which lines to believe.”

I like the different characters and how they interact with each other. I love the way the tension builds-just when you think there might be a break, something else bad happens, all the way through to the end.

Very well done.

January 30, 2013

Turning your book into an ideavirus: eight elements to consider


The cover of Seth Godin’s Unleashing the Ideavirus features these two sentences:

Stop marketing AT people! Turn your ideas into epidemics by helping your customers do the marketing for you.

I was immediately hooked. Instead of going to bed like I intended to, I sat at my desk and read. And took notes. And read some more.

The book itself was an entertaining read, not too technical but packed full of good marketing information.

By the time I put the book down, I had these thoughts on the matter:

  • Most writers want their books to sell, sell, sell, but understanding how to make that happen is a real challenge
  • This is especially true when most of us would rather spend our time writing instead of marketing our writing.
  • Our books contain our ideas, though, and so perhaps they’re eligible to become part of the sales epidemic those two sentences allude to.

I immediately began thinking about the value of the ideas contained in my writing. Certainly some of those ideas must be compelling, or I wouldn’t have any kind of clientele. Fiction is different than the nonfiction articles I write, though, and I honestly don’t know how good my make-believe ideas are.

Even more intriguing, if I found out through a myriad of comments and feedback that my fiction ideas were stupendously wonderful, I still wouldn’t really know what to do with them.

Godin wrote this:

Why should we care? Why does it matter that ideas can instantly cross international boundaries, change discussions about politics, crime and justice or even get us to buy something? Because the currency of our future is ideas, and the ideavirus mechanism is the way those ideas propagate. And the science and art of creating ideaviruses and using them for profit is new and powerful. You don’t have to wait for an ideavirus to happen organically or accidentally. you can plan for it and optimize for it and make it happen.

Kind of brings a spark of hope to the darkness of self doubt, doesn’t it?

Another of my favorite quotes from this book:

Just because ideaviruses have usually spread through unknown means or accidental events doesn’t mean that there isn’t a science to building and managing them.

Godin describes eight elements of the ideavirus formula. I’ve read through all these and think I understand them, but I’ll be studying them more in depth later on. Here is what I gathered about the eight ideavirus elements as I read the book tonight:

  • Choose your sneezers–Basically, these are the people who spread the word about your idea
  • Choose your hive–a target market
  • Velocity–this is how fast your idea spreads
  • Vector–ideas usually go in one direction, not all over the place. Godin suggests studying which direction you’d like your idea to flow.
  • Medium–this is the means by which your idea spreads, or the way your idea is spread from one customer to another
  • Smoothness–This is what hooks you on a new idea. For writers, I think it means analyzing what it is about your idea (your book) that grabs other people and makes them feel like they need to have it.
  • Persistence–this is how long your idea keeps circulating. The longer it circulates, the more units of your idea you can sell.
  • Amplifier–This is how you amplify the positive things about your idea while dampening the negative ones

I’m thinking here about how very uncoordinated my marketing attempts have been so far. I’ve been learning principles, but this book pulls everything together. It’s sparking strategies for different campaigns in my mind. When my contest is over, I’ll be practicing in other ways. I suppose a proper understanding and utilization of all of those elements could lead to an effective writer’s platform.

Of all the elements of the ideavirus formula, I think I was most taken with the idea of smoothness. This is particularly because, in a previous post, I discussed David Farland’s idea that books will only sell if they’re similar enough to other books to resonate with potential readers.

Sooo…If we want our writings to sell, they need to be similar to other writings, in unique ways. Do I understand that correctly?

Let me know what you think.

Meanwhile, I highly recommend Seth Godin’s Unleashing the Ideavirus This is another marketing book that I couldn’t put down and will probably return to again and again.

January 30, 2013

Re-announcing the $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway


The Night Ones Legacy book cover--Ruby Rift is the most most recent draft of a possible sequel.

The Night Ones Legacy book cover–Ruby Rift is the most most recent draft of a possible sequel.


I’m re-announcing the $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway that opened on January 15.

To be eligible for this contest, send me an e-mail at answering these three questions:

  1. What you liked best about The Night Ones Legacy
  2. What would make it better
  3. Who you would recommend this book to (and why)

This feedback will help me tailor the sequel. I plan to have a rough draft of that ready for beta reading by the end of February.

It will also help me decide what I should do with this particular book. Since everything about it happened on almost immediate instinct, I’m not sure the editing and re-writing process got the attention it deserved. It’s certainly been a learning experience, and that makes it valuable to  me.

For the full contest rules, please see the first contest announcement.

The first 100 e-mails I receive will be entered in a drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Card. If there are more than a hundred entries, I’ll hold more drawings.

So far, I’ve had quite a bit of interest in the contest itself but only two complete entries. I’m looking forward to receiving more! The contest will run until the end of February.

If you want to enter this give-away but don’t have a book and can’t get one, please e-mail me at I now have a limited number of Kindle versions to share for free.

January 30, 2013

My Irish Writing Retreat

My Irish Writing Retreat

My Irish Writing Retreat

If you’re a writer, you probably have an imagination.

At least, that’s what I told one of my nieces, years ago, when she was coming up on her teenage adventures. She was concerned about what her peers thought about her. Long after they had moved on to shopping and movies and sports events, her main source of entertainment was pretend play. She spent hours in her room, making up stories, acting them out and then writing them down in a notebook.

I didn’t see anything wrong with using her imagination like that. Truth be told, I still pretend, too.

  • When the dishes get out of hand, I sometimes pretend everything is in order so that I can stay focused on my work.
  • When I have a looming deadline and several other obligations piling up on me, I pretend that time stretches out to accommodate me. Somehow, everything works out.
  • When life gets monotonous–and sometimes it does–I turn to fiction writing, make a new scene, and become a new person for at least a few minutes.

Isn’t that what writers do?

Melissa Donovan from Writing Forward had this to say:

Breakthrough Writing Ideas

I recently got stuck in a story that I was working on. The characters were in the middle of a conflict and I had to find a way for them to get out of it. There were plenty of options, but I wasn’t sure which one they would choose. I tried to think through it, but I just thought myself in circles. I tried writing a list of possibilities, but that didn’t help me make a choice.

Then I decided to do a little pretending. It wouldn’t be interesting to show the characters working out a plan for overcoming their conflict in the narrative, but I could certainly write a dialogue scene between them, then file it away and write the action scene. I sat there and played out a conversation between two characters. It was almost as if I was performing an impromptu scene. It was a little awkward at first, but the conversation moved along. The characters worked out a plan and I saw the path they would take.

I was basically playing and pretending. Play-acting in a little one-person scene and pretending that I was my characters. And after struggling for several days to work out a problem, I got to a solution in just a few minutes.

I think that’s pretty amazing.

For me, almost all my fiction writing is a form of pretend. It’s how I escape, how I experience new worlds, how I learn about new roles and other civilizations. It’s the kind of fun that wraps around my mind. It allows me to find solutions to my problems and, I think, it makes my writing more vivid.

This week, I’ll be using my imagination to take a trip to Ireland, where I’ll participate in a writing retreat. My goal: to finish at least a rough draft of one of the non-fiction projects I’ve been working on.

In reality, I’ll be popping a travel video of Ireland into my television whenever I’m in the main area of the house, and I’ll be playing Celtic music on my computer while I write. Most likely we’ll have something like Irish stew for dinner one night.

One of the great things about this kind of traveling-writing retreats is the lack of expense. My children can come to Ireland with me, all in the comfort of our home. No airline fees, no need to eat out, no trying to find my way around a continent I don’t know. Without those distractions, I have great hopes for a productive week.

I’ll be in Ireland tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, and, if the going is slow, I’ll be there Saturday, too.

And what will I pretend next week?

I’m thinking Japan.

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