Sunday, July 29, 2012

Self-Publishing Explosion

Dear readers and writers,

I'm blown away by these numbers.  In 2010, there were 133,036 new ISBNs registered for self-published books, according to Bowker.  In 2011, there were 211,269.  It seems inescapable to conclude  that the main stream publishers have been acting as a dam holding back the words of thousands of would-be authors.  The niche market book needs of the US are now probably solved.  If we publish 300,000 next year, can they be sold to anyone?

Maybe.  After all, if you read about magazine markets, there are evergreen types of articles they discuss, ones that more or less can be updated annually and still interest people.

Here are a few more details about what kinds of books are self-published today.  Last year, fiction was 45% and nonfiction 38%.  The average price of self-published fiction is $6.94, but the average for nonfiction titles was $19.32.  E-books were 41% of self-published books but only 11% of sales income because the average e-book sold for only $3.18.

 You may have noticed that there are more ways to get reviews of self-published books now and self-published books have been generating awards systems, since most mainstream awards rule them out.  It looks like a whole parallel structure is growing out there, led by CreateSpace, Lulu, and others, and much larger and more lucrative than the mainstream publishers.  They are still claiming the quality high ground, although they've notably signed a few of the most successful self-publishers recently.  

Food for thought!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Op Ed on Title IX and US Women in Olympics

Hi readers and writers,

Tomorrow, the LA Daily News will carry my Op Ed piece on Title IX's role in producing our stellar group of women going to the Olympics, the first time more women than men are going for the US team.

Check it out here:


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Friday Fictioneers: Faucet Fancies

Hi readers and writers,

Here is my 100 word response to Madison Woods' photo prompt of this week.  If you'd like to try writing a response (it's fun!), you could go over to her blog, get inspired, and write your own 100 word piece to share and compare with the Friday Fictioneers.  Cheers, Laura

Ideas for improvement or general comments on Faucet Fancies are welcome!

“Bill, this faucet needs a new washer.  It keeps on dripping.”
“Who cares?  A little more water won’t hurt.  The strawberry plants could use more.”
“But it’s  desert and we’re wasting water and…”
Bill had folded his newspaper and left the room. 
I decided it was time to learn about drips myself, so I went to Home Depot.  A nice young man with a blond brush-cut told me what to do.  I bought a few different sizes just in case, and the wrench he recommended.
“Hey, I thought you said this dripped?”  Bill said the next morning.  
I just smirked.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Author Interview and Favorite Questions

Hi readers and writers,

Fascinating Authors just did an interview with me about Breaking Through the Spiral Ceiling that is posted here. (If the link is broken, paste this URL into your browser to see it:  I really enjoyed some of the questions and that made me wonder, either as readers of interviews or as authors being interviewed, what questions have you found most interesting?  I'll share some of mine in the comments in a few days.  If you've always wanted some kind of author insight, this is a chance to help me pick out questions for my next round of author interviews!

Laura Hoopes

Sunday, July 22, 2012

#Friday Fictioneers late, Grape Arbor Danger

Hi readers and writers,
I'm getting back into town from Arkansas and Texas, and so I'm posting my Friday Fictioneers piece late again.  See Madison Woods' blog for details and to see all the other photo responses.
I'd love any suggestions for improvement or responses to this posting.

Grape Arbor Danger

The grapevines climbed over the arbor.  Lucy looked around for Mark but didn’t see him.  It was an odd place to meet. 
Suddenly there were hands over her eyes.  “Guess who?”
“No.” Something hit her over the head.  When she came to, her eyes were covered and her arms and legs were tied up.  The man picked her up and carried her for a few minutes, then dropped her.  She heard sounds of fighting, then crashing through the brush. 
Mark said,  “I’m so sorry, Lucy.  This is not your fight.” He cut the cords and took off the rag from her eyes.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Color of Water and Glaciers

Dear readers and writers,

I wrote about the indescribable color of the water in bays with tidewater glaciers that slowly pour their ice into the water before I went to Alaska to visit Glacier Bay.  I thought I'd post a few of the pictures I took there.  It isn't possible to capture exactly the blue that you see when there, in fact I see when I paste them in that the computer won't even show the same blues I can see on my camera screen, but you can get some indication of how overwhelming the presence of these natural phenomena can be.  What I can't show you at all is the crack and thunder you hear when the new icebergs give way and fall into the water from the face of the glacier.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Libby Grandy Interview Re Desert Soliloquy

Hi readers and writers,
Libby Grandy has recently published a suspense novel, Desert Soliloquy.  Here is an interview with her about this new book, which I highly enjoyed.  Cheers,

LH: How did you become a writer, Libby?

LG: I loved English in school, but most of my writing was in the area of journalism. I didn’t attempt fiction until I was in my forties. I took a creative writing class and began writing short stories. One of those short stories became a novel, because I fell in love with the main character—Lydia, an eighty-year-old woman. 

LH: What is your favorite thing you’ve written?

LG: I have to choose my novel, Lydia, the second book in my women’s fiction trilogy. The character is a compilation of all the wonderful women in my life. I also loved writing the sequel to LydiaTrue Abundance. I plan to publish the first book of the trilogy, Promises to Keep, a ghost story, in the spring of 2013.

LH: You blog about writing a great deal. What kinds of resources will writers find on your blog?

LG: Writers will find suggestions about writing and marketing in my blogs, but I have full-length articles on my website. They cover subjects such as researching agents, critique groups, guidelines for first-time writers, self-publishing, writing tips, etc. Several of the articles have been published in Writers’ Journal, so I have to assume editors found them helpful. 

LH; In your novel, Desert Soliloquy, you keep the story grounded in the characters but at the same time, you weave in a lot of very current ideas about mining, industry, finances. How did you get up to speed on these topics?

LG: My husband and Google. My two best friends. My husband has worked in both law enforcement and aerospace and really helped with the central plot in Desert Soliloquy

LH: Do you outline your novel before you start or do you write in part to find out what’s going to happen in the story line?

LG: I write from “the seat of my pants,” and hope that the next chapter will come. It might not be comfortable for some writers, but I love not knowing for sure what is going to happen next. Sometimes it surprises me, and that’s always exciting. I worry about plot details after I’ve gotten the main story down. My weekly critique group often has invaluable suggestions.

LH: The setting for the story is in the desert, and I wonder if you used specific locales and buildings that you researched in the story?

LG: There is a renovated silver mining “ghost town” in the high desert of California. I fell in love with Calico the first time my husband and I visited the town. I incorporated the historical facts in regard to Calico into the novel. Anyone visiting the ghost town will recognize the locations from Desert Soliloquy.

I remember sitting in the town’s old cemetery around noontime, leaning against a tombstone, typing on my laptop. I suddenly realized a woman was staring down at me. She said, “Are you from LA?” I had to laugh. Apparently if you are sitting in the middle of the desert in a cemetery in the hot sun, on a laptop, you must be from LA. I explained I was from a small town thirty miles east of LA. I believe she was a bit disappointed.

LH: A part of the novel hinges on development of a love triangle involving the heroine. She is not a twenty-something but a mature woman. Did you encounter resistance to using a mature woman in this plot?

LG: Since the main character is a mature woman, the love triangle simply developed naturally. Young readers need to know that mature love can be just as emotionally and physically passionate as young love. The relationships between the two young characters and the older characters provide a window into both worlds.

LH: As in most suspense novels, sophisticated medical knowledge and weapons know-how were required to write the book. How did you learn about these topics?

LG: I wish I could say that I interviewed prominent doctors and military men, but the truth is, again, my resources were basically Google and my husband.

LH: Did you have an agent? Tell us about publishing this book.

LG: I have had two agents over the past few years, one for my ghost story, Promises to Keep, the first book of my women’s fiction trilogy and the other for my mystery, Desert Soliloquy. Both had been agents for many years and were sure that they would have no trouble selling the stories. Unfortunately, it was when the economy began to go downhill, and neither could get anyone to read the manuscripts. My agent for Desert Soliloquy was basically told that the companies she had successfully sold manuscripts to in the past were not reading work from new writers. Both agents have semi-retired, in the sense that they still represent their old clients but are not taking on new ones.

I have to say, however, it was a wonderful experience working with them. They were so helpful and supportive of my writing and my stories. The last agent pointed out a flaw in one part of the Desert Soliloquy plot, which was easily fixable. She also taught me to lose the unnecessary adverbs. I will always be grateful to her for that. I just recently talked to both of them, and they are thrilled that I’ve published Desert Soliloquy

Last year, I began researching self-publishing, using Mark Levine’s book, The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, as my guide. I finally decided on CreateSpace, and it has been a wonderful experience. I plan to publish one book a year with them for the next four years—my trilogy and the manuscript I’m presently working on.

LH: What tips do you have for the blog readers about marketing?

LG: I believe it is very important for writers to begin building their platform and brand long before their first book is published. Having a website and/or blog is essential. Join Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and all social media venues possible. Brand your name, not your book. Who is going to remember the word “soliloquy,” let alone be able to spell it? Hopefully, they will remember Libby Grandy when my other books become available.

Most of all, focus on the word “social” when you begin marketing your book through the social media. Use the venues to support other writers. Enjoy meeting new people through your marketing. 

This is a very exciting time for writers but don’t get so caught up in the marketing process that you forget to do what you love to do best—write!


Book Giveaway on Goodreads

Hi readers and writers,
If you'd love to read my memoir about breaking into science or know a young woman you'd like to inspire to keep trying and know it's possible to balance family and a demanding career, enter the Goodreads giveaway for Breaking Through the Spiral Ceiling here:

There are just a few days left, and 10 books will be given away.  Right now, it looks like you have about a 1 in 10 chance of winning one.  Free free free, not even any postage and handling costs!


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Friday Fictioneers: The Buzzard

Hi readers and writers,
Madison Woods, on her blog, challenges writers to come up with 100 word responses to a photo prompt each week in Friday Fictioneers.  Here is mine for this week.  I would love any constructive criticism or general reactions to this piece, as usual.  Cheers, Laura
                                                               The Buzzard

Roger said, “C’mon, Susie.  They’re beautiful, how they soar up there with so little effort.  See how they go around in spirals to rise up so high?”

“I know, but they eat carrion.  Not birds of pleasure for me.  Never can see them without a shiver.  If one of us dies out here, they’ll get us, right?”

“In the Australian outback, people put dead bodies on a platform, giving them to the buzzards to eat.  It’s not wrong, it’s part of the whole schema…”

I got up and left.  I’ll just go for a run and let him sit under the tower.  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Friday Fictioneers: The Power of Adobe

Hi readers and writers,
I was cruising in Glacier Bay, Alaska last week, so I missed the usual Friday Fictioneers exercise.  But I'm back, and now I can't resist the photo prompt, so I will write it late.  If you enjoy reading the many, various ways people can approach the same stimulus as much as I do, go to Madison Woods' blog here and check out the responses.

To Friday Fictioneers who drop by later than late:  I'd appreciate any constructive criticism on my 100 word piece.  The photo is by Amanda Gray and is called "Outside Pecos."
The Power of Adobe
We barely survived, Ricky and me.  When I drank the last drop of water he shouted, "Lupe, no!"  We believed in the mirage of a tiny rectangle on the endless plains and we dragged ourselves here.  Behind the abandoned adobe hunkered a well with a pump.  Ricky jacked out water into his hat and we drank, laughed, poured it over our heads and down our backs.  And inside the house, the mud bricks sheltered us from the sun with their thick, earthy power.  But now, Ricky wants to go on.  Why can't we stay, make the power of the adobe our own?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Guest Post from Carolyn Howard-Johnson: I as a Conceit

Using "I" As a Conceit

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success

I don't know when I learned the word "conceited." I was raised in Utah where most of us didn't use "conceit" in the sense of an elaborate or strained metaphor but rather to mean that someone thought they were extra-super special. The little girl across the street who snubbed me because I didn't wear long stockings with garters (which was an immediate tipoff that I was not her kind) was "conceited" rather than prejudiced. The kid who was quick to make a point of how bright he was when I made a mistake was "conceited" rather than arrogant (or insecure). Gawd! I loved the word "conceited." I could apply it to so many situations and avoid learning new vocabulary words.

Of course, in a culture where being extra-super humble was valued, I soon noticed that our English language is, indeed, "conceited."

I'm speaking of the way we capitalize the pronoun "I." None of the other pronouns are capped. So what about this "I," standing tall no matter where you find it in a sentence?

Recently as I tutored students in accent reduction and American culture I noticed that some languages (like Japanese) seem to do quite well without pronouns of any sort. I did a little research. Some languages like Hebrew and Arabic don't capitalize any of their letters and some, like German, capitalize every darn noun. So, English—a Germanic language at its roots—just carried on the German proclivity for caps.

But the question remained. Why only the "I?" Why not "them" and "you" and all the others. Caroline Winter, a 2008 Fulbright scholar, says "England was where the capital "I" first reared its dotless head . . . .Apparently someone back then decided that just "i" after it had been diminished from the original Germanic 'ich' was not substantial enough to stand alone." It had to do with an artistic approach to fonts. The story goes that long ago in the days of handset type or even teletype machines little sticks and dots standing all alone looked like broken bits of lead or scrappy orphan letters.

Then there is the idea that religion played a part in capitalizing the "I." Rastafarians (and some others, too) think in terms of humankind as being one with God and therefore—one has to presume—it would be rather blasphemous not to capitalize "I" just as one does "God." Capitals, after all, are a way to honor a word or concept.

Which, of course, brings us back to the idea that we speakers of English are just plain "conceited."
Carolyn Howard-Johnson is an instructor for UCLA Extension's world-renown Writers' Program, and author of the HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers including The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success ( and its companion booklet, Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers: The Ultimate Frugal Booklet for Avoiding Word Trippers and Crafting Gatekeeper-Perfect Copy ( .She is also celebrateing the New! Expanded! And now USA Book News award-winning! Frugal Book Promoter! The former is a USA Book News award-winner as well as the winner of the Reader View's Literary Award and a finalist in the New Generation Book Awards. She is the recipient of both the California Legislature's Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award and is a popular speaker and actor. Her website is And she blogs about everything from wordiness to style choice at