Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer Breeze Scavenger Hunt

IWOFA is Infinite Worlds of Fantasy Authors. The group got started last year, and already the website has lots of things on it for both writers and readers. I've signed up for IWOFA's Summer Breeze Contest. It's a fun way to get a few books and other prizes, and costs nothing. You go to the site, choose the writers whose prizes you are interested in (they're all listed), and then answer the question associated with each of them. The answers, if you don't already know them, can be found on that person's blog or website.

Each of the writers is offering a prize, so you don't have to go to EVERY site in order to be eligible for some lovely gifty. I'm offering three books, all together. One is mine, Finding Creatures & Other Stories. One is the latest by Eileen Kernaghan, Wild Talent: a Novel of the Supernatural. The third is Holly Phillips' collection, In the Palace of Repose. So it is a good summer's worth of speculative fiction, indeed.

Unfortunately, because I entered my book in the No Se
x category, it has been slotted in Young Adult. Whereas many young adults would find the stories interesting and accessible, they were written for an adult audience. Just one that wasn't particularly randy at the time. Eileen's book is a YA, and Holly's is non-randy adult, like mine. The question you must answer to get my prize is:

What is the name of the protagonist in my first published speculative fiction story, "The Coin"?

Click on the button above, or right here, to get to the entry page. But why don't I give you the contest rules, first?

A. Click on the icon for the category you wish to enter.
B. Read the list of questions posed by the authors.
C. Download the answer sheet provided on the category page for the contest.
D. Follow the link to each author's website or blog.
E. Explore the website or blog until you find the answer. This may require reading excerpts or watching book videos, and fill in the answer sheet.
F. Save the answer sheet as directed OR copy it and paste it into the body of an email.
G. Use the "Click here to enter button" and email your answer sheet to the contest coordinator as outlined below.
6. How to Enter: Entries will be accepted by email to, (can be obtained by clicking on the “Click here to enter” button on the contest page) from 12:00 midnight on June 21, 2009 to 11:59 p.m. on June 30, 2009, Eastern (US) Standard Time.
7. All entry emails MUST contain the following:
A. Subject line should contain the category being entered: All Ages, Mainstream, or Explicit (Contestants may enter one, two, or all three categories, but each must be in a separate email.)
B. Contestant's legal name.
C. Contestant's email.
D. Mailing address.
E. The answer sheet containing the answers to the author questions for that category. ALL questions must be answered for the entry to be considered eligible.
8. Author Prizes: Each participating author is contributing an individual prize, as listed on the contest page. A winner for each individual prize will be drawn from among those contestants answering that author's question correctly.
9. Notification: Winners will be notified, by email, no later than June 30, 2009.
10. Privacy Notice:
A. Names and addresses are provided for the distribution of prizes only. The name and address of the winner of each author prize will be provided to that author, and then deleted after the prize has been sent. All other names and addresses will be viewed only by the contest coordinator and will be immediately deleted after winners have been notified. No solicitation or harvesting of names or addresses will be permitted.
B. Many authors do have email loops or newsletters for distributing information to readers. If contestants wish to be added to these mailing lists, a separate page with links to each author's email has been provided at:
11. Questions: For questions or rules clarifications, please contact the contest coordinator at Please put QUESTION in the subject line. If you are having difficulty accessing an author's site, please also let the coordinator know.
12. Content Warning: Books in the Mainstream and Explicit categories contain material not suited for younger readers.
13. Reading E-Book Prizes: On each category page, there is a table with download buttons for Adobe, Mobi, and Microsoft Reader. These are free programs to allow readers to open and read electronic books. There is also an explanation of how to transfer your free downloads to the Kindle electronic reader.

Back to the contest page!
Click the button(s) beside the author's name to enter his/her contest.
Book ratings indicate the heat level of the author's prize.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Squandered Splendid Years

thank you to for this image

Yesterday, as I have not tired of telling you, was my 52nd birthday. I had a lovely time. Not having the energy to organize a party this year, I instead had breakfast with sister Saya and nephew Harper, then hung out with them for the day. Harper was leaving for his first solo tour of Canada, so half way through the day we shifted from celebrating my birthday to celebrating his launching into a new phase of life. It was a sweet transition.

Reading The Mentor Book of Irish Poetry this morning I uncovered these words of Padraic Pearse:

I have squandered the splendid years:
Lord, if I had the years I would squander them over again,
Aye, fling them from me!
For this I have had in my heart, that a man shall scatter, not hoard,
Shall do the deed of to-day, nor take thought of to-morrow's teen,
Shall not bargain or huxter with God...

Brave, humble, and jubilant words for a man about to be executed for his commitment to the cause of Irish independence. (I'll put the entire poem in the comments section for those who are interested. Or you can go to for more of his poetry.)

But for me, right now, what the words say is this:

There is no cause for regret. What is, is. There is exultation in living as we have lived, however critical we may be of our choices. It is a triumph to be alive, whatever the pain.

I had thoughts of myself, yesterday, as a person once folded into a skinny skinpacket and steeped in my mother's watery nature, bound by her muscles and bounded by her bones. It is a strange thing to think of, that I was me and yet I had never breathed, had never looked around me, had no worry about whether I was too stiff to bend over and get back to standing again. A fleshly being of infinite possibilities, before the first word of the story was set down on the page, and the plot began to be limited, step by step, as it must in order to proceed.

I like that feeling. That remembering that once I was as I was then, and that now I am as I am now, and that a long and rambling line connects me from there to here. Cool. Cool to be alive.

Happy birthdays, every one.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Promotion. And Broads.

thanks to the blog "our man in abiko" for this image.

I had the delightful experience yesterday of participating in an hour+ long conference call with Karen Meng & Selly Breagle of Broad Universe.

The topic was How to Tell the World About Your Fabulous Prose, and the participants were asked to prepare questions in advance. We (though it turned out to be I - did everyone else forget to set their alarm clocks?) would then pose those questions to Karen Meng, multi-pseudonymous (?!) author, successful in a variety of genres from horror to fantasy. Selly Breagle, best-selling nonfiction author under another name, has recently turned to fantasy writing. She arranged and moderated the discussion - Thank you, Selly! And thank you, Karen, for your thoughtful words. Both Karen and Selly had much of value to say.

(Check this link to read Selly's Broad Universe article "
Book Promotion: Ten Ways to Let the World Know Your Fabulous Book Exists ")

I can't overstate how much I enjoyed the
conference call. I've been a member of BU for perhaps a year, but this was the first time I have had a chance to sit down and talk with members ear-to-ear about the business of writing and promotion. Both women were professional and friendly, good-humoured and intelligent. The conversation was anecdotal, personal, packed with good advice, and altogether useful in clarifying the direction I want to take. It also somehow put me more at ease around what I have done, what I want to do, and what I want NOT to do. Below (far below) I have consolidated my hasty notes and tried to make them clearer than, "bks wl d bd tgs if u jst lv thm n thr own." (For example.) But first, a little Self Reflection.

(But first first, A technical point of interest. The call was made through Free I haven't looked into the details of how this service works but I will say that the connection was problem free.)

Gone are the days, they say, when writers could stay in their quiet towers and put their minds to writing only; now they must promote themselves as business people, too. Well, I would argue that few writers in history have had the luxury of writing only, without needing to promote their work in some way, or find a way to feed themselves, but nevertheless, the IMAGE at least is shattering all around us. Writers' conferences and conventions abound with information on how to present yourself and your work, how to build portfolios and promotional packages and all manner of things that I confess to having little knowledge of (or interest in). Selly and Karen are business women as well as writers. I, I fear, am not.

I've felt bad about it. Not HORRIBLE, but not entirely pleased with myself. Wattle and Daub has placed several ads for Finding Creatures & Other Stories, and arranged for online sales and so on. Being a teensy, beginning publisher they have not yet got a distributor. I've trailed around stoppin
g in at bookstores and asking if they want my book. Some store managers have said sure, others have lectured me vigourously about bothering them, and others have told me to come back when the book has a distributor. It's been humiliating, hilarious, engrossing, and always a learning experience. But I'm shy. SHY SHY SHY! It's very hard to force myself back into that cold-call saddle again and again.

And really, tripping around to the few bookstores I can physically get to is not going to make a big difference in telling people about my stories, in ge
tting them to the folk who will be glad they had a chance to read these tales.

So I try other things. Online networking. (I suck at it. I'm great at making friends - I like people! - but promoting the book? I feel like a pariah every time I open my mouth about it. So I don't, much. Yeesh.)

What about reviews? That's useful. And I have been liberal in sending out review copies, and even gotten some reviews out of it, and maybe more will come. So I did okay there.

But what about getting in the newspaper? Doing events? Handing out handbills and otherwise getting in people's faces? May I crawl under the bed now? If it's okay?

And when people DO read the book, and tell me how much they loved it? Well, I know that I am then supposed to ask them to write a review for Amazon, or LibraryThing, or ask their library to order it in, or Tweet and Facebook comment about it and yak it up on their blogs. Some people I have actually asked to do these things. With always that creeping sense of guilt about bothering them. Lord a-mighty I'm a terrible self-promoter.

In fact, I am so crappy at it that I can't even figure out which of the things I am doing are useful and which are not, and I have my gaze in so many directions, I can't even remember what I'm doing - or had intended to be doing - half the time. All I know for sure is I have lugged around this sense that I should be doing more, and more aggressive, things than I am, than I want to, than I feel comfortable with. So I am dooming my book to fail by my timidity.

All of which is background to saying the most important thing I got out of yesterday's conference.

Somehow, although nobody actually said this, I walked away with the sense that I am doing just fine. That I don't have to be aggressive, or someone I am not, a business person with a good portfolio. I know those things would be great, maybe, but I'm just not good at them. What I am good at is, it turns out, one of the things they most emphasized. And that's liking people, and caring about their success, and enjoying hanging out. (Heck, I spend at least as much time promoting other people's work as I do promoting my own. Probably more. Because I really LIKE encouraging them and increasing their visibility.)

I'm just trying to get my stories out to a few people who would value them. For that, there is no time limit. If what gets people interested in my writing is knowing me, then, slowly slowly, here and there, a few people will read my book. And my next one when it comes out. And among those people will be a few who really like it. And that is good. So I can choose the style of self-promotion that I feel comfortable with and be content with that. Meanwhile, I can pass on information on other styles that you may benefit from.

So here are a few notes from Karen and Selly, as digested and short-keyboarded by me. (Eg, any mistakes are my own.) The conversation wandered around a bit. These are the cleaned up but not re-ordered notes. Dive in and see what you can find to sink your teeth into. And enjoy the small glimmers of humour that are all that remain in my notes of the lively and warm conversational styles of Selly and Karen.

Thanks again to both of you for a wonderful workshop.


NOTES from BU Promotion Conference Call, 23 June 2009, with
Karen Meng and Selly Breagle:

- hype yourself. write a book proposal including "how good I am at promoting myself", promo copy, marketing plan, schemata of market, synopsis, sample chapters, etc etc
- K has been writing professionally for 30 yrs: in every genre she has a distinct pseudonym, background, and history. (Fave genre:
hardcore horror.) Having these separate identities has been extremely useful on many occasions.
- Wiscon - one conference where they are not pushing writing as a business; there to relax; this is a good counter-balance for the usual necessary approach. Normally you must GET that writing IS a business, and work at it accordingly.
- need to understand that we're writing for an audience, not just for ourselves. They'll read our work and put their own perspective on it. This will impact your work: eg you may be asked by an editor to change an ending. (Ex. When she killed her protagonist at the end of her first book. Editor wanted her NOT to kill her off because this looked like a good book to have a sequel.)
- don't always agree to change your work. It's judgment call. ALWAYS HAVE A BUY BACK OPTION IN YOUR CONTRACT IN
CASE THEIR VISION IS TOO DIFFERENT FROM YOURS. In fiction they pay you in thirds: on signing the contract, on receiving the book, on hitting the shelves. (In nonfiction, you're paid in 1/2s.) The buy-back option is generally 100% + 10-15% penalty. Karen was once given $55 000 for a book which she then bought back for $60 000 because she did not want it changed to the degree the publisher wished to.
- for her first three books she was left to herself to do the promotion. As she got people interested in her work and learned how to target particular audiences, her fan base grew and her publishers began listening to her thoughts on the matter and helping with promotion. For 10 yrs she was building a fan base and getting her fans to write about her and her books. Networking among fans was very important. They give her exposure in a variety of ways, eg listing her book among "the top 5 horror books I've read this year", etc.
- ask fans to mention your book in comments on blogs and in the comment section of the New York Review of Books' blog as well as other book-related magazines and sites. Convince people to write about your work.
- Karen identified key local groups of other professionals who write like her and joined the groups they belonged to, introduced herself with her 30 second sound-bytes (on the project she was working on at the time), and became a fixture on the local level.
- went to two or three national conferences a year with her books in hand, as well as bookmarks and other promotional materials. Put them out everywhere and ...
- networked, pretending she was just as important as the famous authors she admired, and that she of course should and can share a panel with them. Get to know them. Recognize you are one of them, even if you have to pretend your somebody special even though you believe you aren't. She networked with people she wouldn't have dared to. Pretended to be a professonal and got help developing a persona. (Selly: got help doing the clothes, etc. Friends would dress her up in the corporate style and send her on her way.)
- if you have an author you admire don't be afraid to get to know her or him. See what events she attends and show up. Learn from his experiences.
- Do this also with the people who write reviews-positive or
- Show that you have longevity as
a writer. Stick around so people get to know you and remember you. When a project comes up they can ask you for help. When they need someone on a panel, they will ask you. Thus: GO TO PROFESSIONAL CONFERENCES AND REACH OUT AND TALK TO PEOPLE. Ask how they're doing and ask advice. Accept rejection. It's okay. Let them know you enjoy reading their work and would like to learn more about achieving their level of success.
- contests are good. Even if you don't win they can be good networking tools and are good experience. Rocky Mountain Writers Association has an excellent contest. You submit your synopsis and first chapter (runs every April). They will read and give feedback. The finalists pitch to editors and agents
- when readers write and say "I love your book", answer and say "Would you mind posting that on Amazon?" Then boil it down for them by changing the wording from "you" ("I love your work") to "her" ("I love her work"), etc. so that it's easy for them to just post it. Add, of course, "Forgive me for being so forward." Include links for them to post it to. (Selly)
- Karen switched from a literary agent to management company

- attend workshops. Get to know writers. Submit a body of work to be reviewed. In one case, even though she didn't win
, an agent approached her later and offered to represent her. (This was a contest.)
- When asked about Twitter, which is being touted as a great promotional tool, Karen replied, "I leave Twitter to the fans. Get someone who likes the book to tweet it; get them drunk at a con and get them to tweet right on the spot!" (I think she was kidding!)
- doing readings: Tell the store owner that you will help them promote by adding the info to newsletters, blogs, etc. Get more foot traffic in by contacting a local newspaper online, checking to see who is doing book reviews, then emailing them. See who is doing the Features Section, profiling local artists. Tell them what you are interested in doing and send a copy of your book to them, with a thank you. Contact a local SF group, eg at the university. They are readers of SF and F. Get them interested in the event so you can promote the reading with a fan base. Offer to go to one of their meetings and do reading. Either just show up and introduce yourself or contact them ahead of time. Look at the main events in the city to see who is sponsoring them and connect with them. Introduce yourself. They don't need to like your writing (!). You just have to be open to sharing who you are and doing a reading and at the end tell them you will be at such and such a bookstore and could use help promoting it. Send an email to the local sf blog in that city. Introduce yourself and say what you're doing in town. Offer a free copy of your book for them to pitch in their blog
- approach
libraries for readings; find the person who does the events or calendar, offer to give them one or two free copies for the shelf, and then do a reading.
- you may not get sales at reading but the ads they put in will lead to sales

- buy a set of clothes for public appearances NOW, not when you are suddenly asked to be on a panel or a TV show
- ask questions about others and you will relax; be supportive of them and you will support each other.
- Karen: I come equipped with kooky stories about myself to get people to laugh or make fun of me; it eases the tension. Playing hostess works, too. This way you can move into your persona instead of being nervous.
- you need to be able to a bad job sometimes in order to do a good job later.

- in the BU Website "10 tips for promotion" Selly says: make the connections real and never be afraid to be a failure. Have a sense of humour about your failures. Meeting the person who rejected you later on; relax, it's okay.
- hand out flyers, don't just leave them on the table.

- if you don't hear back from someone you might write again and say, "I sent a follow-up email based on your feedback and I'm afraid it may have got stuck in your spam
folder; is there a way we can root it out?" if you don't hear back phone them.
- preditors and editors - check them for bad publishers, and let them know if you have a bad experience that others should be warned about.
- with a publisher: ask for money and a contract up front. A publisher
doesn't have to release a book but you are protected by your contract. There is no such thing as a handshake agreement. That is up there with asking for reading and editing fee or paying to be published.

Check the comments out for Selly's additional wisdom and contact information.

SO! In finishing this lengthy work about self-promotion, I think it is only fitting that I indulge in a little S-P, myself. Thus I remind you to click on the following link and sign up for the Finding Creatures Book Giveaway. The draw is one month from tomorrow (tomorrow is my birthday, by the way...) on 25 July.

Good luck!


Broad Universe is an international organization with the primary goal of promoting science fiction, fantasy, and horror written by women. Anyone excited about that project is welcome to join us. If you would like more information, email info(at) or check our Resources pages.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


OKOK, I'm reaching for the egoboo today. But I want to write a post and all of my Top Secret Activities are, well, Top Secret, so I don't want to write about them just yet. Instead, the egoboo. Got the headsup on a nice little blog called Lobster and Canary by Daniel A. Rabuzzi. I know it's a nice blog because look what he wrote:

Finally, I want to read Finding Creatures and Other Stories by C. June Wolf, brought out by Canadian publisher Wattle and Daub Books. I say this because I enjoy her blog--her thoughts are round, warm, and witty--there is a humane and gentle strength that runs just below the surface of her sure words. For their part, Wattle and Daub is apparently a one-woman labor of love, with a goal of putting out three books a year.

He tells us, by the way, that '"lobster and canary" is a Norwegian expression, meaning "odds and ends, a bit of this and a bit of that."'

More to the point though, is the gist of the entire post this paragraph was nestled in. Daniel visited the Book Expo America in Manhattan and came away inspired.

BEA, part I

With so much distress in the economy generally, and within the publishing industry specifically, I was pleased to find BEA relatively crowded and the mood fairly upbeat. As several industry veterans told me, this year "it's all about the books," meaning less focus on gimmicky giveaways and over-the-top hype. I felt this as well, having attended or worked several BEAs, and many other trade shows.

From BEA, part III

One of the many things I love about the BEA is that it brings together all members of our far-flung, disparate literary family: the giant publishing houses-cum-media conglomerates, the one-person presses held together by passion and a willingness to disbelieve in gravity, and everything in between...

... This then is our miracle: superb books can emanate from the steely matrices of the corporations or be found nestled in the felt weft of the tiny independent. Who cares the provenance, so long as the tale is a good one!

The energetic Daniel has written three long posts about this most recent
Book Expo America. You can find the beginning post at

And at last the penny drops.

How, I have wondered, has Daniel A. Rabuzzi come to hear of me? Book Expo, Book Expo - oh, right! Wattle and Daub put an ad in the New York Review of Books' Book Expo Issue. So we were there, too, in our teensy, flat, unassuming way. (Flat as in a picture in a magazine, you understand. Not flat as in boring, of course...)

You mean people read that stuff? Huh.

Daniel has a book, The Choir Boats, coming out this summer from Chizine Publicattions (Toronto). Excellent luck with that, Daniel.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

New Amazon Reviews

4.0 out of 5 starsSomething different, some things new,

May 17, 2009


Josh More "Entropologist -"

- See all my reviews

When you pick up a book by a new author, you never know what you're going to get. However, those of us that read a lot get a feeling for what a book will be like. Looking at Finding Creatures, I expected a blending of Celtic and Native American mythology ("Aboriginal" if you're Canadian ;) In such collections you often find similar characters that all inhabit the same world, and each story follows a pattern of introduction, meeting the other, learning the other isn't so strange after all, oh wait, yes they are, but they're OK anyway.

I am pleased to say that this collection does not match the trope.

Each story is unique and special. Moreover, each is told in a slighly different way. In fact, were it not for a common thread, it would feel much like reading a collection by many authors. Wolf doesn't so much have a authorial voice as a subvocalization, which makes reading a collection very interesting.

The stories range throughout space and time, ignoring genre in favor of characterization and exploration. It is tempting to launch into a story-by-story analysis, but to do so would not do justice to the stories. So let me just say that the aliens are actually alien, not just humans-with-twist. The gods are god-like, with all that that historically implies. Humans, wherever they are, are still human with human concerns and flaws. The ideas may not be new, but many of them were fairly new to me.

If you want a collection for "more of the same" this is not the collection for you. However, if want an interesting exploration of place, culture and the people and ideas within, this is a good one to read. In the end, I'm glad that I gave it a try. I will certainly pick up the next collection.

5.0 out of 5 starsA Panorama of the human spirit,

April 20, 2009


David Finks (Northern California, USA) - See all my reviews

Finding Creatures and Other Stories is a tour of the human condition. Sometimes tongue in cheek, but always with insight, caring and grace. I was transported to each story and found myself immersed in the lives of the characters
A great first book; Wolf is a story teller extraordinaire. Can't wait for her next creation.

4.0 out of 5 stars A New Voice and Unique Stories,
March 31, 2009

What do aliens inside solid objects, a lonely girl and a horse, futuristic matchmakers, time machines, and archeologists have in common? The answer is that they're all featured in a new short story collection called Finding Creatures & Other Stories by talented writer, C. June Wolf.

In his introduction, Charles de Lint refers to Wolf's use of different voices and styles to tell her stories in the best way possible, and this variation gives the collection delicious unpredictability. Every story offers a unique setting, some in the future, others in contemporary time. Some characters are human, others are not.

At the beginning of each story, Wolf shares her inspiration for the piece or reflects on the setting or the psychology behind the story. The collection is so eclectic and multi-levelled that readers will likely have different interpretations for each piece. I especially liked the careful balance between real world and alien world stories. In one of my favourites, "Claude and the Henry Moores", she does both.

I don't read short story collections often, nor do I read enough speculative fiction, but it's great fun to immerse oneself in a compelling collection by an author the world hasn't yet discovered. Check out Finding Creatures and see which stories are your favourites. I'm guessing you'll find several.