Friday, May 11, 2007

News and views

I have created a new blog to document my experience with publishing my first romance novel. If you're interested, toddle on over to Eyes On Publishing and take a look. It may not be pretty, but it will be, as always, brutally honest. After all, someone needs to mark the trail and I'm fresh out of urine.

That is all. Disperse.

And now this...

It seems freelance journalists in America are no longer good enough--or cheap enough. Think I'm kidding? Check this out.

It isn't bad enough that writers are consider the bottom of the creative food chain, but now they're outsourcing writing jobs to India. What's next? Having your children watched on nanny cams by a nanny in India?

That is all. Disperse -- and purge.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

At last

I was at the post office yesterday and the line was nearly out the door. The two people at the counter didn't go anywhere for nearly 15 minutes while everyone in the line chafed and shuffled and fretted. I was a little worried since the parking meter only had 26 minutes on it.

A very pretty young blonde with skin like new cream, black mascara ringing her pale blue eyes, and wearing a sarong and flip flops and a very short older woman, eyes deep brown nested in a wreath of smile lines, with short, wavy helmet hair threaded with silver and I stood at the end of the line. A short cranky bear of a man with a beard checked his watch every 15 seconds as we three women chatted and joked. The bear finally grumped off to go to "another post office where they aren't so &*$%*#*@ slow". We three looked at each other and smiled and then encouraged the people in front of us, one by one, to go to a faster post office, providing them with directions if they hesitated. Slowly we made our way to the head of the line.

"Why are they raising postage rates?" Blonde asked.

"Because they can," I said.

Silvered-hair and Blonde laughed. "Besides,"I added, "they need to be real snails to carry the mail. It's faster than using carriers." Everyone in the post office laughed.

We came to the head of the line and Blonde frowned. "He's so slow." She was about to get Papa Smurf, the guy with the blue fingers. "He's efficient," I said. "He's sloooow."

Silvered-hair got Terry, the lady whose husband died a year ago and I got Ed who is always smiling and glad to see me. Then I was out of there and to my car in record time with one minute still on the meter. And I thought it was going to be a quick trip.

The point of all this is snail mail (now with real snails). I just received an email from my publisher. After six weeks of waiting, my contracts finally arrived. That's priority mail for you. I now have lots of instructions and information and will soon meet my editor (virtually, of course) and we will begin the process of getting my book up and ready for bookstores everywhere, and I do mean everywhere because we already have an international tie-in, which means my book will soon be available, once it's edited and packaged, in Asia and Europe. I can hardly wait. My publisher said he was sending my copy of the contract and I should have it in about 1-1/2 to 2 weeks. I think he's being overly optimistic about those snails. Of course, where he lives it's much warmer than here and the snail tend to get frozen in their slime trails from time to time.

He also said the artist has been given my suggestions for the cover art; I was pretty explicit and detailed. I have a vision. They asked if I had any ideas . . . and I did. Now, whether or not they follow it is something else again. I'll just have to wait and see. Now for a question.

Do you like characters more who are vaguely described or intricately described?

We now return you to regular programming.

That is all. Disperse.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Shameless promotion

I just received word from Angela Hoy who edits and puts out Writers Weekly that my success story will be in the next issue. She's also publishing a letter I wrote to her in Letters to the Editor. She is also buying an article on freelancing, but the date of publication is still not determined. So keep an eye out for the Writers Weekly newsletter. It comes out on Wednesdays and if you haven't signed up yet, what are you waiting for. WW is a great resource for marketing and freelancing. Angela also runs Booklocker one of the premiere Print on Demand publishers.

And speaking of determined, the good news keeps coming. Byline has selected two of my articles for future issues and there may be another article in The Writer.

It helps to shake up the ant farm from time to time to keep them from their ruts becoming too well worn.

That is all. Disperse.

Keep the irons hot

Did you ever look through market listings and get an idea but thought you could hold onto it until you finished looking through the listings? You finished and got out your writing tools and . . . nothing.

It's happened to me a lot. I've missed deadlines that way by being unable to think what it was I had planned to write. The clock ticks on relentlessly and the deadline passes. No one noticed because no one was expecting my submission. There are always other books and contests down the road; so what if I missed one or two or an uncountable number of opportunities to be published?

I've found a solution.

When I go through the marketing listings I have pen and paper or my laptop close by. That way when I get an idea or something sparks (hopefully, without actually catching fire to the books on the bed or sofa or table) I make some notes or just write the piece. I can always edit it later, but I might not get the spark again. It also helps with getting ahead of deadlines. Nothing like being weeks or even months ahead of deadline so you can move on to the next deadline and the next market listing that strikes a spark.

The same thing works for reading the newspaper, magazines, hear a snatch of conversation, or see something that simply must be recorded (you can keep a camera handy for this--make sure you have batteries just in case). Keep a little notebook you can stick in a pocket or purse and a pencil and a pen (never know when the ink will cut out on you). Stop whatever you're doing and jot it down. It won't take long and the results are definitely worth it. Making a note or taking pictures helps capture the moment, but they also help set the information in your memory so it's less likely you'll forget. The boy and girl scouts had it right: always be prepared.

I also write stories and articles and then look for markets, but when I have nothing pending and I'm cruising the listings and contests, this method works really well. I have chalked up ten stories/articles/essays in the past two weeks. Being productive helps keep you productive and the ideas flowing. I've also landed four assignments, which means there will be checks in the mail upon publication or receipt. And none of this gets in the way of my regular work or reviews I already have slated.

In a way, it's like exercise, keeping the writing muscles and energies high and very flexible. Nothing wrong with filling the pipeline and keeping it filled. The end result is good for you and for your bank account.

What is your method for being creative and keeping creative?

That is all. Disperse.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Bruised egos

When a writer lashes out at a reviewer or has a review deleted it never works out. Case in point: Anne Rice lashing out at reviews on Amazon won her no new fans and showed a side of her that was monumentally embarrassing--for her. I wonder sometimes if that is why she shelved her Vampire Chronicles and not because she hid her scars and dents in the bosom of Mother Church.

The truth is that not everyone is going to like a writer's work. Granted, people will buy or not buy based on a reviewer's opinions and sometimes a review will create a few tempest in teacups like the one over Specfic Floozy's recap and column on the recent Hugo awards (that's science fiction for all of you who don't know).

Critics abound and, in a country where a Jewish lawyer defends the Ku Klux Klan in front of the Supreme Court, will and should have their say without censhorship. It takes a very small mind and an overweening ego to believe that their work is above criticism and cannot be improved upon. Too bad so many of such people are adept at hiding the truth and casting others in a negative light, especially when people refuse to listen or open their minds or see they are being used. Such has always been the case and, I'm sure, will always be the case. It is as common as geese drowning in the rain because they haven't figured out looking away from the rain is all it takes to save their lives.

That is all. Disperse.

What you don't expect

Birthdays have always been special to me, probably because my own birthday has been so ignored by most of my family and some of my friends. After so many years of being ignored, I have become used to the silence because the silence has become my friend. It's something I can count on. It's always there, wrapping me in soft folds of comfort and stability.

A young friend was pretty upset when a party she threw for her own birthday was a bust. No one showed up. She later said that she realized she hadn't spoken to or seen some of the people for six months or more. She was surprised.

Time gets away from us so quickly that we seldom recognize its passage. Caught up in chores and deadlines and demands made on our time by those around us in our families, at work, and even demands we impose on ourselves, we focus on getting everything done and not on what we're missing, like friends.

Someone once told me that a friend is someone who would give their life for you and everyone else is an acquaintance. Friendship is a stormy sea but if death is the only criteria for being a friend, it's no wonder no one shows up to celebrate the anniversary of our births.

Friendship takes tending like rare orchids and temperamental roses. It does not grow like weeds or crab grass, although some people are as just as determined to insinuate themselves in our lives. Some friends need less work than others and some demand every second of our time: free or not. Friends are as varied as snowflakes and as rare as a true blue rose, but they can also be as common as dust on the wind and just as hard to pin down or count on.

Someone can be as close as a twin sister and suddenly be as dangerous as a bear wakened too soon from its winter hibernation and there are those who stay at a distance and yet are as close as a shadow, appearing and disappearing with the passage of the sun and time. There is no rhyme or reason, only the vagaries and inconsistencies of life in an all too busy world.

The next time you look around for a friend, make certain you haven't been so caught up in your life you've forgotten to tend to theirs. Sometimes it is only a matter of listening when they need to talk or calling to say hello and remind them that you remember they're there. Nothing is so important and so earth-shattering that you can't put it off to spend a few moments chatting or send out a note to remind them you think they're special and are glad they stuck around. Friendship is like a smile; the more you offer yours, the more often someone else will offer theirs. It only takes a few moments, but it's worth the effort.

That is all. Disperse.