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Sunday, October 31, 2010

15 Authors Who've Influenced Me (expanded version)

I made the mistake of joining in a non-Zynga FB game yesterday. Why do I do the things I do not want to do?

Anyway, after taking the required 15 minutes to list the authors, I took more than 15 minutes to figure out who to tag, and almost didn't get my hair done, but that's my personal hell and one of the dangers of FB.

Returning from my busy Saturday of election volunteering (vote this Tuesday and don't be stupid), I found I was not the only sucker to take part in this game.

I enjoyed jumping around people's walls, for once not looking for virtual sheep, and stumbled across C.L. Dyck (of Scita Scienda)'s note.

Not having enough to do with being a mom, wife, writer, editor and Canadian, she upped the ante by listing reasons these authors were on her list.

Thanks, Cat. 'Preciate it.

Well, I don't want to repost my FB note. I don't want to remember who I tagged. It was hard enough to think of them the first time.

But I do want to play with the revised rules. I may have done this before, but if I can't remember, I suspect you can't, either, so here goes.

I'm listing the rules in case you want to play this silly thing during your FB time. Yes, you can tag me.

The Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Fifteen authors (poets included) who've influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Tag at least fifteen friends, including me, because I'm interested in seeing what authors my friends choose.

These are not listed in order of importance, just as they come to me.

1) Anne McCaffrey - Pern stories, but almost anything, really.
My writing style, my linking of worlds, and my fascination with psychic powers all started here, with the itty bitty book Dragonsong, which appeared on my shelf by teleportation because no one I've questioned seems to remember putting it there. As I've aged, I've learned to appreciate her subtle treatment of the more -ehem- adult themes of her books. As a child, I had no idea what she was writing about, and I hope I can master the technique should I need it.

2) Jane Austen - Pride and Prejudice.
I've read her other books, but they seem pale imitations of this one. I love the civility, and the way the meanest things are couched in the most polite terms. I could also wish for Lizzy's spunk and Jane's serenity.

TT: Hey! I just realized Dyana and Glorya could be Lizzy and Jane. Hmm.

3) C.S. Lewis.
Narnia, anyone? How could you not be affected?

4) George MacDonald.
He could thumb-wrestle Anne McCaffrey for number 1. How many times do I bring up The Lost Princess? If you haven't read it, and you know a brat, find the book. If it doesn't change your life, you're dead. Go lie down. Love his short stories, love The Princess and Curdie, love Lilith. Have no idea what Phantastes is about, but read it regularly anyway 'cause it was one of the books that inspired C.S. Lewis.

5) Wendi and Richard Pini
Elfquest rocks! These are not listed in order of importance because these guys would be number 1. Maybe. This comic book series formed most of my opinions about love, long-term friendships, tribal loyalty, leadership, parenthood, the "quest," tall women as villains, and the drawbacks to immortality. Pretty much everything I think. Thanks to Wendi, none of my drawings had five fingers until I was in my 20's. And, Cat, they're Canadian, too!

6) Robin and Stephen Cosgrove.
You may know them as the illustrator and author of the Serendipity books. I assume they're going strong, but my library contains older works like Little Mouse on the Prairie, the Saveosaurus and Nitter Pitter. For years, I called my lamb a "furry Eyefull" thanks to these people. Beautifully illustrated stories with animals as main characters and a tidy moral lesson at the end. It was the illustrations, mostly.

7) Piers Anthony Xanth novels
My favorites were Castle Roogna and Golem in the Gears, although A Spell for Chameleon was pretty cool. How often have I remembered that giant adult spider teaching the young boy in a man's body how to act like a man? How to think ahead and be prepared? Plus, it was a world unto itself, but it followed rules. Creative, unique and never-ending. He's written, what? 100 of them? Moving on.

8) Frank Herbert
Dune is the only book I've read more than once, and I wish I'd never read any of the others. It was a huge story told in a little book. Families that control entire planets? An emperor who rules the galaxy? A bunch of women who rule everything except the Quisatz Hadirach? Talk about scale. Now that I'm grown up, I think Herbert had issues with wives and Muslims, but as a child I just loved Paul and wanted good things for him.

9) Antoine de Saint Exupery
The Little Prince is all about love. How one rose among a million others can mean more because it is your rose. How to tame something makes you responsible for it (I learned this one too well). How two separate minds can link through the miracle of imagination. What more is there to learn?

10) Peter S Beagle
The Last Unicorn is a nearly perfect book. He sweated, he bled, he cursed, he wished for death while he was writing it, but in the end, he loved it. So do I. A unicorn that regrets. Can there be a more tragic tale than that? So many quotable lines, too. "Butterflies remember only songs and bits of poetry." "Your death sits in that cage." "If she touches me, I will never belong to myself again."

11) Robert Jordan, may he rest in peace.
I loved Conan the Destroyer, but discovering The Wheel of Time plunged me into despair almost as great as Stuart Stockton's Starfire. Jordan truly created a World. I don't know how he did it. I don't know how he kept it going. I do know he died so he wouldn't have to finish it 'cause he didn't know how. Actually, I don't know that, but I've suspected it for a long time.

12) Robert Aspirin's Myth Adventures
Itty bitty witty books again illustrating diverse friendships, coming of age, the benefits of loyalty and pitfalls of success. I don't know how many he finally wrote. I've read 10 or 11. I picked them up for the cover art and kept buying for the friendships.

13) Lloyd Alexander
I read Taran Wanderer over and over for years without realizing it was book four of a series. Yet another coming of age tale showing the benefits of hard work and craftsmanship.

TT: You know, with all these coming of age tales in my background, you'd think I would have grown up a little faster.

14) Dodie Smith
The original author of One Hundred and One Dalmatians - a fabulous book, if you can find it. I have no idea if she ever wrote anything else. I could taste the hot buttered toast and sweet milky tea. I ran with the dogs as they escaped, and cheered as Perdita the wet-nurse's eight liver-spotted children pulled the little carriage so faithfully with the tiniest puppies in it. I smelled the wet hay of the barn they slept in on the way home. Good writing should stay with you, and it has.

TT: I will point out here I will not watch the Disney movie because they got it wrong. Pongo's mate's name is Missus, as in Missus Pongo. Perdita was the liver-spotted Dalmatian brought in to help nurse Missus' fifteen original puppies. She stayed home with the Darlings while Pongo and Missus went to find their children and helped them cope by constantly licking their hands, "forcing them to use copious amounts of hand cream to prevent chapping. Fortunately, she loved the taste of this." I didn't look that up. I remember it from 30 years ago. That's good writing.

15) Barbara Hambly
I can't believe I almost forgot her (and got her name wrong to boot. Sheesh)! I know I've posted about Those Who Hunt the Night before in my "TUTAW: Some Authors Only Write One Book." I love her because she uses words I don't know. That almost never happens for me. I love her because once in every book is a perfect sentence. I search for them. And I love her because as boring or unintelligible as she occasionally is, she got published. She gives me hope.

There're my way too long reasons for choosing these authors.

Now I have to get back to that real life I'm trying to have.

Friday, October 29, 2010

I Hope Your Virtual Sheep Makes You Happy While You're Burning In Hell

I couldn't resist! Ocilla's Mommy found a youtube gem called "Facebook Poke" yesterday. HI-larious! The acting wasn't Oscar quality, but the dialogue was brilliant (a bit coarse in places, but lines like the title had me rolling). One of my other favorites was "You poke-whore!"

But it got me thinking how good dialogue is essential in a story. A couple of the Blogs I Follow have written about this recently, and Anne Lamott spent a chapter on it.

I don't like to read plays but occasionally I feel like I'm writing them. Many of Glorya's scenes in Elementals are dialogue-focused. Part of this is because there isn't a lot of action in a cave with no dragon in it. I was going to write monster, but the Achnoi have plenty of monsters. Glorya just has a different experience with life than her sister, more cerebral and less...knifey.

Don't worry. She gets to kick a little tail when the moment calls for it. She just enjoys it less than her sister.

I've heard (and read, on occasion) some authors have trouble with writing dialogue. Never been a problem with me. Maybe it's because I talk so much in real life. Or maybe I'm just good at getting those voices in my head out on paper. I regularly walk down the street without an IPhone and an earbud muttering to myself.

In fact, my scenes usually start out entirely as dialogue. I go back and add "beats" or physical moments to break up the talking.

Readers like good dialogue. It provides white space on the page and a sense of momentum, like they're really going somewhere and they have enough time to read one more page before the boss catches them and they get fired.

So practice your dialogue, dear writers. And enjoy reading it, dear readers. Our voices have to go somewhere.

Hmm. This post is way more boring than the title would lead you to believe. Maybe I should have added dialogue.

By popular demand, I tried to link to the video. I can't figure out how. Maybe this will work:


I guess fourth time's the charm. Watch at your own risk.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cover Art

I fixed my font issues. Seems it was a mix of "zoom" and "text size." I will blame a cat since I cannot imagine what combination of buttons I would have pushed in my sleep to do what I just undid.

Notice that "seems" up there in the second sentence? Seems a lot of things "seem" when I write. I know about my propensity for "still." Last night I noticed how "seemy" I can be. Everything seems to be this, that or the other. I should probably run a search at the end in case I missed any.

I did some math (you all know how that goes, so this next could be chock full of error). Taking the last two nights of edits, dividing pages edited with words removed and averaging the results - about 10 words removed per page - I am going to miss my 100K goal by over 4000 words. This is a conservative and possibly faulty estimate, but my initial concern level is inching toward anxiety.
The later pages of the book are more first-drafty than the first parts, so I may cut more words than I expect as I proceed. Then again, I may add words for clarity's sake.

I'm gonna shove that mounting anxiety under the covers until I've actually reached the end of the mss. Proverbs says don't count your dragons before they hatch. No, Proverbs doesn't say that. It does say a wise man counts the cost before he builds the house, but this ain't no house, your Majesty, and I ain't no wise man.

But my post title says I'm writing about cover art today, so I'll get on with that.

One of the questions on PYP's Questionnaire is what I see as cover art. I've never thought about cover art for Elementals. Odd, I know. I think about everything else.

I prefer art with professionally illustrated people accurately portraying a scene from the book. Nothing irritates me more than a cover with a blond warrior who is a brunette in the book. Or swords where there should be morning stars. Infuriating. Makes me want to slap the artist.

TT: I am an artist, too, so I 'm justified in my irritation. I can draw to specification when needed.

The Robert Aspirin Myth Adventures series paperbacks were perfect. So were the Terry Brooks Magic Kingdom for Sale covers. And Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time cycle, although the illustrations got a little fuzzy in the middle. A bit more impressionist than I normally like. Probably all the same artist. The noses look the same.

I hate covers with photos of people on them, even people in costume. I don't want people. I want characters. And covers with pictures or symbols bore me, unless the symbol is really mysterious, like a celtic knot with a dragon pattern in it oozing blood. Well, maybe not blood.

Anyway, Elementals' cover should have both sisters on it. Not easy. We only see them together at the end. And I'm not professional enough to satisfy my own standards, so I can't do it.

Some of you have read it. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

After eavesdropping on a "comment string" between Caprice Hokstead and...either Holly Heisley or Keiki Hendrix (I'm not making those names up) on FB, I bought the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I'd never heard of her. She's a writer, possibly a famous one, and both of those ladies (also writers) had read the book.

I'm about halfway done. Yes, I continue to read Thou Shall Prosper, but Anne's book fits in my purse and has traveled with me these past two weekends. Another reason for writing a smaller book.

Anne and I have about as much in common as Gene Getz and I do. That is to say, nothing. For which, I am grateful.

I have not yet experienced her three-year struggle to produce a novel. Neither of my parents were writers. I do not write about things I remember from my past (I would only write Star Trek or Buck Rogers episodes, with some modifications) or things I see when I turn my head. I am not a voracious reader, although I'm trying to get back in the habit.

TT: You should see my house. Books strewn everywhere. Rabbi Lapin would be proud.

I do not seem to be like Anne's students, either. My one great desire is not publication. Sometimes I wish it were. I do not seek the magic formula for writing a book. Odd, considering how much I like Recipes on FV.

So far, I've enjoyed the Introduction the most. Not that the rest is bad, but Anne has a tendency to write off on a tangent, obviously amused with her own cleverness, and it gets a bit trying at times...

Hmm. Perhaps we have more in common than I thought.

She does remind me very much of a character of mine who joined me early in life (try 5 years old), a little gal by the name of Deborah Ellis. She was not an imaginary friend, simply a character, but she is one of the more complete characters I've not written about yet.

TT: Deborah may end up taking credit for some of my books should I become ridiculously famous and need to disappear.

Deborah writes all the time about everything. Her father is a writer and teacher, and she struggles with perfectionism. She's also got a mother who could be me in a another life. Oh, and she comes with the writer's Best Friend accessory, Tanya Wynn Zakk, the artist. Every writer needs an illustrator, right? As I grew up, I recognized them as my Id and Ego. One day, I hope they will have multiple collections of short stories which only now occur to me will be YA stories.

I guess I found my series.

So, while I don't consciously identify with Anne Lamott, I am underlining parts of the book, and I will finish it and loan it out and do all the things you do with a book you tend to like. I didn't mean to make this a review, but I'll give it 3 buttercups for humor, style and consistency. I hold one back because the language and content is occasionally more coarse than I would generally recommend (not foul but not squeaky clean, either) and one because I haven't yet found that gem of whatever I seem to need to give 5 buttercups.

I haven't found Bird by Bird as useful as Terry Burns' Writers Survival Guide, but I have found it funnier. And for all my reticence, it does keep finding its way into my purse as I leave the house.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


My computer screen has changed somehow. It seems smaller to me. I've fiddled with the "zoom," but it just seems wrong. Oh well.

Elementals revision began in earnest last night. I don't have much month left to finish this.

TT: I'm trying to ignore my previous lessons with submission, which were "you'll never hear from the publisher again except to be rejected." That can't always be true. On the off-chance this time will be different, I should be ready.  

I'm a bit concerned but trying to stay calm. I'm almost halfway through and still have almost 7K words to cut. I haven't discarded much the last two times I've sat down with it. Then again, the "Dyana" parts are more worked over than the "Glorya" parts. If I haven't worked it out by The End, I'll ask for reader suggestions. Maybe The Lioness will again grace me with her skills.

Mostly I'm rearranging sentences to take out a word here and a word there. A few times I've slashed entire paragraphs - blocks of "telling" that read more like "notes to self" than part of the story. Oh, and removing "that." I have a few "thats" no matter how carefully I write around them.

That's about it for this morning. I'm a bit tired from vacation and wishing I could go back to bed for a three-hour nap instead of go to work for an eight-hour not-nap. Oh well. God willing, I'll sleep tonight.

After more revising.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Recovery and Rearranging

In the cold light of my last vacation day - a Monday at that - I see I had a great weekend. It felt great, but so does being drunk, I've been told. I wouldn't know. I have no experience with drinking alcohol. The upside of not being drunk and feeling great is I have nothing to regret.

I've done a little rearranging today. One of my birthday presents was a signed pen and ink drawing called "Dragon" by Sue Coccia. I bought a mat and a frame, I used the mat and the frame and I hung the mat and the frame and the picture. All in one day. I'm exhausted.

Unless you live in a brand new house, hanging a picture is not an easy thing. I either had to remove a picture from an existing vignette or move a bunch of pictures to create a new vignette. I did both.

TT: If you follow Virtual Buttercups, you know I'm all about vignettes.

All my public walls are different now, but I am mostly happy. I have one wall that needs a bit more on it, but I'll have to root around my closets for pictures I wasn't using.

I also realized pictures look better on a dark wall than a light wall. Half my walls are pale yellow, half my walls are dark sage green. But I am NOT painting my walls. I have other things to do than procrastinate at the moment. And I'd have to take down all these pictures...

The rearranging mood also hit this blog. As I'm adding "Blogs I Follow," I'm resenting space given to other things, like "About Me" and the blog archive. So "About Me" is now the page "The Real Turtle" and you can click on it if you like. I even put up a real picture of me. If my anonymous follower from last September still reads this blog, he can hop over there and see my true face. Half of it, anyway.

The blog archive remains but it is now a drop-down field taking up almost no space.
Feel free to let me know your opinion of the changes.

I'm considering removing "Followers," except I like seeing when someone new cares enough to join up. Maybe I'll remove it later.

Segueway...I asked my lamb to "suggest" my RT FB page to her Friends. "They won't read you," she said.

Ouch! We value honesty in my family, but I'm gonna have to teach her about tact. Maybe she can learn it younger than I did.

She's absolutely right, of course. I haven't written one thing on that page that would appeal to a normal teenager. Which begs the question, how can I be all things to all people? Well, I can't. I'll reach out to the teens when I have something to offer. They have four-second attention spans anyway. No point trying to grab it too soon.

I have informed a few friends and will now inform the others my plan for the remainder of the month is to finish revising Elementals. My goal is 100K words.

TT: Terry Burns explained anything over that amount increases the cost of the book. Knowing this, I am more than happy to reduce the word count. See, I need a reason to conform. This never used to be the case, but I'm older now, a bit lazier and less naive. Well...slightly less.

Just because this is my plan does not mean I will achieve it. I'm just planning it.

And I may try one more time to utilize that November Writing Month thing to puke out Past Ties. I've heard goal word counts from 30K to 50K. I don't think I could make either of those, but I could set a "2 hour per night time limit." I've done that before. I can fresh-write about a page an hour.
Another reason I'm a turtle. It will cut into my farm time, but not too much. I have 1-day crops to master yet.

Tomorrow I return to my normal life. I regret nothing.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Best Day Ever!

This will not be a repeat of Old-Fashioned Thoughts' post, but I have to say it again.
Yesterday was THE BEST DAY EVER!

I met Kerby Anderson, one of my heroes, personally, in Kansas City. The cast and crew have been touring the country interviewing candidates and meeting the folks. I was invited to attend and allowed to sit in during the recording of the interviews, which will be aired next Wednesday on the radio show. You can listen in via computer at http://www.pointofview.net/.

You will not hear me yell "woo-hoo," although not doing so almost killed me. It would have been edited out anyway.

The only thing I can imagine being more exciting for me would have been to attend a live taping of a Friends episode, but even that kind of takes a back seat. No Friend (not even Joey) has made such an impact on my life as Kerby and Point of View.

As a secondary great part of the day, I emailed my book proposal to PYP. The month only looks to be getting busier, and you can only rearrange words so many times before they stop meaning anything at all. It was time.

So, met Kerby Anderson. Emailed book proposal. I'm exhausted from all the happy!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Hmm. If I don't complain, whatever will I write about today?

Here's a funny thing. Funny ironic, not funny ha ha.

I have only recently begun to think of my ability to write as a marketable skill. That sounds weird, but it's true.

I just write stories. I try to write the best stories I can.

I used to stare at people who would say to me, "You write it. You're a writer."

Okay, stare is being kind. I glared at them. My usual response was "I write fiction." Not the nicest response.

Hey, I'm selfish. I'm trying to get over it. Cut me some slack.

This notion of sequels has me thinking. Can I write something without "inspiration," as it were? Could I use some kind of formula to develop a story where no story existed in my brain?
Isn't that what I do all the time?

No. My stories generally arrive in my brain with a beginning and an end, and something huge in-between. I flesh them out, but I don't just "make stuff up."

That may not be a clear enough distinction for a Normal. Suffice it to say, when the story strikes, I'm along for the ride. My characters tell me what to do, not the other way 'round.

Example: I don't see another book involving Dyana and Glorya as main characters. I can see them as cameo appearances in a book about their brother, but I don't see a book-length continuation of their stories.

The question is, if my ability to write is a skill to be applied, could I not "force" a story where no story previously existed? Would it work? Would it be fun to write? Would it be fun to read?
That was more than "a question." Sorry.

This leads to another line of questions. If I try to force this story, could I cannibalize other, unwritten stories and use their dramatic parts?

This is a huge jump for my turtle brain. My stories, though connected, are separated by the characters who inhabit them. Could I take a scene originally planned for...Past Ties and altar it to work in Elementals part 2?

I don't know. I don't know if I would want to.

So there's something to think about on a Thursday.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Me, The Devil and Prada

I've noticed a severe complaining trend in my posts over the last month. My sincere apologies. I hope this is not indicative of my real life conversations. If so, you all have permission to smack me. I will try very hard to focus more on the positive in the upcoming month to balance it out. I don't think of myself as a complaining person most of the time. Some days are worse than others. Maybe it has to do with resistance to learning new skills. About that...

You've seen the movie, right? The Devil Wears Prada? The ultimate "your boss is a (fill-in-the-blank)" movie?

That story was always a puzzlement to me. Why would anyone put up with such abuse? This is America. We don't have slaves anymore.

TT: Actually, we do. Sex trafficking of children and young women is the modern-day slave trade, but that is a post for Old-Fashioned Thoughts, and I won't go into it here.

So this fashion-inept gal goes to work for a horrible woman (yes, she is horrible) and ultimately becomes a fashionista and presumably a success in whatever field she ultimately pursues.


The part I had trouble with was her overcoming of obstacles.

I don't overcome obstacles. Turtles aren't equipped for that sort of thing. We get unbalanced and fall over and die of starvation.

But the movie got me thinking maybe that's my problem. I accept the status quo, the setbacks, and the stone-walling too easily. Maybe I'm supposed to push a little to experience success.

I don't know why I've never thought about this before. I suspect it has to do with success in general coming so easily to me. Forgive the arrogance (as if you're not used to it by now), but most things come easily to me. When they don't, I figure I'm not supposed to have them and walk away.

TT: This may make certain people want to kick my virtual tail. I can't say I blame them. Even I am amazed by my presumptions, and they're mine. I can't imagine how irritating they must be to you Normals out there.

Anyway, I've started pushing a bit. Not a lot, but a bit. At work, while writing, just here and there, making myself do a bit more than normal to see what happens.

I've always been afraid of hard-earned success. What if I push for it, and I don't like it? I'm sort of stuck in the bed I made, you see. Oh well. Maybe I'll luck out and experience no success whatsoever and go back to my old way of doing things.

The up-note for this post is I've cut Elementals' word count to under 7000 words. Huzzah! Thanks to The Bridge (that's you, Grace) and Ocilla's Mommy, I have worked out my proposal formatting issues, and I am within days of submitting to PYP. Calloo-callay!

Oh. I'd like to take a moment to give a shout out to WGR. I go to the trouble of finding a cool nickname for you, then completely fail to work it into a post. My apologies.

Have a great day, dear readers.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Conundrum of Actors...and Authors

Do you have a favorite actor? Someone whose movie you would see even if it isn't your normal genre?

I divide actors into categories. Shocking!

There are type actors. Tom Cruise, Tom Cruise and oh, yeah, Tom Cruise.

There are character actors. Ernie Hudson. Don't know the name? Look him up. You'll recognize him immediately. I've found if he's in a movie, I'm probably going to like it. Chloris Leachman might also fit here. You can't forget who you're watching, no matter how much makeup is applied.

Then there are (no offense to the aforementioned Ernie Hudson) "real" actors. Tom Hanks. Charlize Theron. Robert Downey Jr. Meryl Streep. Ed Norton. 

TT: Denzel Washington might fit here due to the variety of his roles, but he's such a strong personality, I have trouble not noticing "him the person" on-screen.

Folks who can become whatever the role requires them to be.

Real actors are few and far between. They do not confine themselves to a genre or type. In fact, they seem to go out of their way to become something completely different from what they've been before.
Here's the funny part. As much as I marvel at the real actors, I prefer the type and character actors. I suspect I'm not alone.

I like to know what to expect in a movie. I like that when I see Ernie Hudson, he's going to be a good guy in a tough situation who provides the necessary support to help the hero achieve his goals. I don't want to see Ernie play a villain.

I'm thinking books are the same way. As I do a little (a very little) research into the book market, I see series after series. This makes sense. If readers like the first book, they should like the second and so on.

Well, that's great if you like the story enough to want to write sequels (these would be the type or character authors if I continue my initial illustration, depending on how similar the sequels/series are). What if you don't want to write sequels?

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle got so sick of Sherlock Holmes, he killed him. His readers forced him to resurrect the sleuth.

What other books would Sir Arthur have written if given the chance? Who did we not meet because Holmes was just too popular to die?

I don't want to kill my characters. And I don't want to get locked into book after book in the same world when I have so many worlds and characters in my head.

The irony? Once again, I don't want to write what I like to read. I prefer getting to know one character deeply, not many characters briefly. But I prefer to write beginnings, not middles, and certainly not endings.

If you can't tell, I'm trying to work out whether I could produce sequels to Elementals. I do love the characters, but I prefer leaving them alone with the illusion of a happy ending. Then again, I leave a few ends untied, just in case the muse (or banker) should strike later. Maybe those ends would be enough to start a new thread.

Monday, October 18, 2010


I slept about 16 hours yesterday, and I'm wishing I could sleep another 16 today.

Don't worry. I'm not depressed or stressed. No more than usual, anyway.

I traveled this weekend. I had a great time, but soon after arriving home, my body said "Consequences" and to bed I went to sleep it off.

I moved a wastebasket close to my head, just in case. Thankfully I didn't need it.

I don't ask for help.

During one of my role playing stints, my character got in over her head during a test. All she had to do was ask for help to pass, but it didn't occur to her (me) to do so. I kept thinking, "This is her test. There must be a way for her to get through it." The compassionate GM tipped me off or that would have been the end of Pip (He wasn't too compassionate. She was our only cleric, so he kind of needed her to live).

Rabbi Lapin says being annoyed by interruptions is a sign of arrogance. Guess what? I'm generally annoyed by interruptions. Now that I see it, I'm working on it. Really. You can ask my co-workers. I haven't glared at anyone walking into my office in two weeks, no matter how sorely I have been tempted.

My annoyance with interruptions makes me hesitant to interrupt anyone else. My excuse is I'm a big girl (a very big girl) and I should be able to figure something out, like how to remove a header from the first page of a Word document. Seems I can't, though. I also can't figure out how to add that 1/3 page of blank space at the start of a chapter without using tabs, but that may be the flip side of the same problem.

So I'll either have to ask for help or submit as is and look like a Word-incompetent boob.
I suppose I'm good either way. Both options make me want to crawl under the covers.
But that could be the remaining Dramamine talking.

In case I was too obscure, here's the two-cent version: can someone help me figure out how to format this Word document? Anyone?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Strange Cats

I've started and abandoned two posts this morning. We'll see how this one goes.

Have you seen the meeting of two strange cats? It rarely goes well.

Cats are fiercely independent. Wild cats can form loose societies, but they are more unstable than your average dog pack. Cats just aren't designed to group.

Have you ever met someone who instantly put your back up? That's a cat colloquialism, by the way. We've all seen it, and we all know what it means. Impending fight or flight.

When we're young and we have this reaction to another person, our parents tell us to try to get along anyway. That person may turn out to be your best friend. You can't know instantly that you don't like somebody. Stuff along those lines.

As you get older, you may realize your parents were right. Some of the time.

As I've gotten older, I've learned there are some people in the world with whom I will not get along. I've learned this because trying to get along with those types of people doesn't work. I'm finishing my third decade. I've had some years to develop and test this theory.

I should try to get along as best I can. I'm not justified in treating such people like a spit-up hairball (which I used to do, by the way. I've matured a lot in my old age). But, I'm not going to put excessive time and energy into making such people my best friends.

Why not? Because I have a whole world of people I can interact with more easily.

I am not insane. I am not a fighter. I do not meet challenges like a grizzly bear with cubs.

One thing about me should be clear by now. I am a student. Once I learn something, I practice it. I can be taught, as the genie would say.

And I have learned certain people rub me the wrong way without intention, and I usually have the same effect on them. Unless I have a compelling reason to interact (such as being co-workers in the same cubicle), I will keep the interactions to a minimum.

Call it "irreconcilable differences." Sometimes walking away is the best gift you can offer.

You might think I'm missing out on opportunities. Maybe. I think of it as applied learning, otherwise known as wisdom. It is wise to count the cost before building the house of friendship, and to my mind, some houses are too expensive.

Just one of those things rattling around my brain this morning as two of my cats take time-outs for fighting.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Oi, I Miss Wordstar

To come so far only to be foiled by formatting has me foaming at the mouth.

I have reached the chapter on formatting. How improper formatting can irritate editors and indicate you're an amateur who can't tell her cranium from her keyboard.

Guess that's me.

I go to put in a header and it adds it to every page, even when I check the "different first page" box.
Try to change the margins to one-inch and it resets it to 3.5 inches. Every time. Oh, except the times I remove the header entirely. Then it won't let me put it back.

I used to think I was moderately versed in Word. I use it at work. I'm generally able to do whatever I need to do. Maybe this is an upgraded or older version or something.

It's humiliating, is what it is. I can't figure out how to add a text box with picture. I have a Master's degree, for Pete's sake. I've talked down angry teenagers with chairs aimed at my head. This shouldn't be this hard.

Wordstar was so simple. It was text-based. You remembered the little codes and typed them in and everything worked. It was beautiful. You didn't need Mr. Clipit because a monkey could do it. A monkey with a good memory. I used to have one.

I am hoping last night was some kind of stupidity glitch and today everything will work perfectly and do exactly what I want it to do.

Yeah, I don't believe it, either.

I'm running on day three of late nights and extremely early mornings cleaning up hairballs before the dog does. Mica is having another bout of stress-related grooming, probably from being pilled every day for the last week, thus I am having bouts of grooming-related sleep deprivation. I will miss her when she finally dies, but I will have trouble remembering why.

On the other hand, Elder Brother dropped by, transferred the last of my files to my new computer and made suggestions regarding my website. Once I get some sleep, I should feel pleased instead of knowing I should feel pleased.

Terry Burns' chapters on Marketing Platforms and Marketing Strategies were surprisingly reassuring. He managed to make the process seem doable. I was inspired to expand my platform as I wrote and "think outside the box." That's new for me. I'm a turtle. I don't mind boxes, as long as they have food in them.

So, I get to face Thursday with less-than-adequate sleep, left-over formatting frustration and the joy of knowing I'll have to administer 3 pills a day to Mica for the rest of her life, which may mean I'll never get another uninterrupted night's sleep until she dies, whenever I muster the courage to make that decision.

Today's mantra will be "all days are good days" but I will have trouble believing it.

TT: My Dear Friend, this post should ramble enough even for you. Perhaps your trouble is sleep deprivation.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Turtle Progress

It occurred to me to look in the back of A Writer's Survival Guide to Getting Published. Terry Burns included examples of his work. Resplendent! That was a great idea and a mistake. PYP will now get a replica of his examples when I submit, and it's their own fault for recommending his book so often.

I do need to finish reading the book. He may explain the difference between a short proposal and a book proposal. At the moment, the difference is keeping my synopsis at one page instead of three. That, and I have almost no author's bio or market analysis. I haven't read a children's book other than Harry Potter in 20 years or more. I have no idea what's out there.

Frankly, I couldn't care less. But that's not the right attitude if I'm going to win this game.

Based on his example, I did write new great sentences for the sell sheet. I boiled the book down to four paragraphs. Rather well, if I do say so myself, and since I'm the only one who's read it, I'm the only one who can say. Of course, I haven't reread what I wrote. It could be compost by the bleary light of a cloudy autumn morning.

I freaked out a bit at his marketing section. I can honestly say I will not be as aggressive as he was (or claimed he would be). On the other hand, I'm not a full-time writer looking to feed my family. I expect to promote, but I won't be out and about 7 nights a week. I have cats who will kill me if I don't keep them domesticated with babying, and other books to write and publish.

Quantity, remember? My last TUTAW.

Mom tells me I have access to a promoter (someone who promotes, I'm guessing) who loves my family (Elder Brother in particular, though that would be news to him) and would probably be willing to help me with scheduling and such.

That's a good thing, because as I read Terry's words, I saw CASE MANAGEMENT blazing at me from the page and nearly put the book in the freezer. I cannot go back to that place.

So, making steady progress, if not fast, and enjoying my new hobby of "impress the editor with my professionalism."

If he doesn't read this blog, that is.

TT: I also started relabeling my posts. I like the "emotion" idea. Once upon a time, readers liked my emotional posts. This way they can know right off the bat if I'm depressed or curious about my topic. And if it isn't otherwise labeled, just assume it's about arrogance.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I'm Getting More Serious About the Monkey

Another fruitless hour spent trying to monetize http://www.robynntolbert.com/. This time I went to Amazon Associates and tried to add a "Recommended Favorites" link. Once again, copy, paste and string of code instead of a nice, little box.

See, I know the boxes are supposed to appear magically from the code because that's what they did/do when I add them to this blog.

I'm beginning to wonder if my website doesn't support outside advertising, but that can't be possible, can it? How could it not? James Paris makes it seem so simple. I'm starting to wish I'd subscribed to his year-long tutorial with limitless personalized help.

My site does have a "store" option, but it seems to require me to stock and ship stuff, and no offense to Paul Baines, but I'm not buying copies of Alpha Redemption to have ready to ship.

There has to be a way around this, but this is exactly the kind of tinkering I suck at. The "help" options weren't all that helpful, either. I kept running into jargon that led me to another site to explain that word which brought up two other words I didn't understand. UGH!

Deep, cleansing breath.

I will conquer this mountain.

I went from struggling with my website to struggling with my proposal. I am not understanding the difference between the one-page sell sheet and the 1-3 page synopsis. And any smart aleck who points out the length may just get bitten by a turtle.

It can't be just length. The sell sheet sells the story, covering all the major plot points, I assume, in an interesting way that hints at my writing style and makes the whole thing sound exciting and page turning.

But after working on all those great sentences (pause to shake off arrogance), am I supposed to write all new great sentences for the synopsis or expand the sentences I've already written? Why would anybody want to read the same thing twice? If I'm able to boil it down to one page, why would I fluff it back out to 3 pages?

Apparently, I need a "why" here. What's my motivation? What am I trying to accomplish?

This is where a mentor would come in freaking handy, but I don't seem to have one of those up my shell. Terry Burns is trying, but he's a book. I can't whine at him, and I don't seem to understand what he's trying so calmly to explain.

TT: Hmm. While labeling this post, it occurred to me maybe I should change my labels to match the mood I'm expressing. Have you looked at my labels? They're ridiculous. My inability to "big picture" is showing.

On that off-topic note, I'll close. Elder Brother, we will be talking.

Monday, October 11, 2010

I Have the Whine. Who Has the Cheese?

Am I the only writer in the world who just wants to write books?
When I was attending conferences twenty years ago, I was told to "write, write, write." Enter contests. Submit to magazines (they didn't have e-zines back then) and newspapers. Get a few short stories out there.
I didn't want to do it then, and I don't want to do it now.
I don't write short stories. I don't even like to read them. 

I don't like anthologies. I have a couple on my bookshelf from before I understood what an anthology was. They are Elfquest, Blood of Ten Chiefs and A Book of Vampires. Oh, and I have one book of dragon short stories, but I stole that from Elder Brother when I was about 10, and it continues to annoy me that I cannot read those books in full.

And I don't read newspapers. And I don't read magazines, other than gardening magazines, and I mostly look at the pictures in those.

I have a rule. If I don't do it, I don't do it. I don't drink coffee; I don't make coffee. I don't drink alcohol; I don't buy alcohol. I don't eat octopus; I don't kill octopus.

See? My rule, lived out in my life.

Yet here I am, once again, being told I have to "write, write, write" to build a writing resume so a publisher will take me seriously. Yep. I've gotten to chapter five of A Writer's Survival Guide to Getting Published.

Heavy sigh.

I can't be the only writer who feels this way. My real question is has any other writer who feels this way managed to publish a book?

TT: Maybe it's time to start reading some author biographies. Or caring about the writer's market.

My head understands the rationale. It's about name recognition. It's about building trust with an audience and a potential employer. It's about proving I can finish something and handle criticism without a hissy fit. I get it.

On the other hand, does a 1000 word short story prove I can deliver the goods for 100,000 words? Or 166,000, like Star of Justice?

It doesn't, but maybe it isn't supposed to. Maybe it's more about self-promotion and devotion to the craft. After all, a publisher is taking a risk with me, too. If I end up being a jerk/dead-beat/loser, they lose more than I do because their investment is bigger.

I wish I hadn't read Seth Godin's Tribes last year. It is very easy now to look at the standard way to publication as a nuisance. Sort of like entering a marriage with a pre-nup. Why give it my all when I think I have another option lurking around the corner?

I remain determined to think of this process as a game. The moment I take it too seriously, I back away. Making it a game engages my competitive streak and keeps my focus in the right place.

So there's my whine for the day. Somebody give me a cracker.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Surviving Submission and the Weekend

I've figured out the rules for surviving the weekend with my writing aspirations intact.

1) Don't let my chocolate stash run out Friday night.
2) Don't watch 6 X-Files episodes consecutively when I have no chocolate, even if they're good episodes (season 4 rocked).

3) Don't skip my daily time with God when I've broken rules 1 and 2.

That pretty much covers it.

Now that I'm past my professionally suicidal moment (and eagerly awaiting the next!), I'm once more pointed toward submission.

It's fair to say I had decided not to submit. Then Ocilla's Mommy warned me if I didn't, she'd drive the several States between us to kick my tail. I believe her. I've seen her Youtube video. She's small but scrappy.

So, as I sit and read Terry Burns' A Writer's Survival Guide to Getting Published, I'm making my lists and checking them twice. My results are a little disheartening, but then I remember I'm new at this. I have a learning curve, and I'm not going to be afraid to use it.

Shall I tell you a funny thing? Before Terry's book was available, PYP sent us newbies to another site for some examples of submission guidelines. Turns out it's Terry's other job's website. Say that three times fast. I dutifully went there to take a look, promptly became depressed, and took a nap.

TT: It was a great nap. I dreamed up a romance titled The Lady and The Wagon. It was more interesting while I was asleep.

Now that I'm able to read Terry's book, I see the same information, but it doesn't depress me. Much. Why are paragraphs friendlier than bullet points?

Well, first of all, Terry is trying to make the process not scary. I appreciate that. I'm scared enough.

TT: His book could have "Don't Panic" written in large, friendly letters across the front cover, except that's already been done.

Second, he's been there, on both sides, and he knows what to expect. I really appreciate that. My greatest fear is and always has been not knowing what to do.

Third, this is information I need. I may not want to know it, but I need to know it if I want a book published by someone other than me by the big 4-0.

I haven't finished Terry's book yet, so I can't rate it. Right now, he's getting five buttercups just for his soothing tone, but I'm only three chapters in.

Never fear. I'll be revisiting this topic often in the next few weeks. After my nap and chocolate fix.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Stench of Honesty

I spent some time with Big Brother last night. I haven't done that in a while. He's a busy guy.

He's also a funny guy. He's a cop, with cop stories. Unfortunately, cops aren't allowed to comment on the funny side of what they do while they're doing it.

I can understand that. It's no good having a clown show up with a bullet-proof vest and a sap (that's a little piece of leather with lead sewn in one end. I'm not actually certain today's cops use them anymore). You need folks to take you seriously when the down-side could be a gunfight.

But the Turtle family finds humor in the oddest places. We are accustomed to dealing with tragedy by seeing the funny in it.

We were talking about the upcoming Zombie Apocalypse (yes, this is my family), and he was saying swords were the weapon of choice when dealing with zombies. A sword doesn't run out of ammunition, you see.

I argued a sword does run out of energy when its wielder tires, but he assured me with proper training, you don't get tired. You may get messy, but not tired.

I didn't bring up the possibility of contact infection. If you assume zombification requires fluid exchange in the form of saliva or blood, you run the risk of becoming infected by getting fluids on yourself, which is why guns are the weapon of choice for the masses. Of course, if the infection is airborne, we're all screwed and no weapon will help.

This conversation led to the next obvious topic: smell. He pointed out the one thing you never see in a zombie movie is folks reacting to the smell. He assured me if ever you encountered a 12-day old corpse rising from its grave, you might scream first, but you would puke second.

This led me to wonder if I'd been graphic enough in my dragon fight scene in Star of Justice. As slurpy, goopy and smelly as I made it was it slurpy, goopy and smelly enough? As long as the bodies are fresh, he said, you're good.

It got me to thinking about honesty. I was once encouraged by an acquaintance to "be honest." I spent a few minutes laughing about that.

I am ridiculously honest. You want to know me? Here I am. Some topics I will not broach on this blog because I find them crude (really? me? yes) or unprofessional. But what you read is who I am. I present myself, stink and all, right here.

Why do I do this?

I have no idea.

Perhaps I want to encourage folks who think only they think this way. Perhaps I want to make you feel better about yourself. Perhaps I just like the attention.

The trouble with therapy training is it's almost impossible to self-diagnose with any kind of accuracy. Not because you don't want to, but because those biases I've mentioned before get in the way. If my viewpoint it the only one I know, I can't see past it.

But this is why God gives us friends. You know that old "iron sharpens iron" proverb? A friend, a real friend, is your mirror, your "smell check." They show you things you cannot see about yourself, and they call you on it when your perfumed offering sours to the reek of the grave.

So I guess a post that starts with cops and zombies can end with friendship, kind of like Shaun of the Dead. Just remember to keep the air freshener close. It comes in handy with friends and zombies.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Another Issue with Networking

I continue to read Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. I continue to mull.

Another issue with networking is the Ulterior Motive.

Allow me to illustrate with an excerpt from Star of Justice, modified slightly for clarity:

“I would encourage you to stay here and rest a bit. My tribe can supply you with faster horses than you currently have, and possibly an escort, once I talk with Yerkaa. I would wager you could reach Golor City in four days of hard riding,” Rhami said.
Caissa studied the short wizard. After a sleepless night, he had no more stubble than he’d started with. Merritt would have sprouted half a beard by now. “Why would you do that?”
Rhami tugged on his robe. “Professional courtesy. One wizard helping another’s apprentice. Once Gamaliel has set you straight, he’ll remember I helped you when you needed it.”
“I suppose he would,” she said.
“Without doubt.” He nodded smugly. “It never hurts to do a good deed where it can be appreciated, and, perhaps, someday reciprocated.”

Rabbi Lapin says you have to get around this Ulterior Motive by developing a genuine desire to help people without thought of personal gain. Rhami obviously hasn't learned this trick yet. Don't judge him too harshly. He has his reasons.

But how does one develop a genuine desire to help people? Is this something I can learn? Do I want to learn it?

I must admit, when Rabbi Lapin first posited a subconscious bias against businessmen propagated and reinforced by general society (that summation makes him sound like a conspiracy nut, but he makes a better and longer argument in the book), I thought he was crazy. Unfortunately, the more I mull, the more I believe him.

I am biased against successful business people. And I consider myself a capitalist! 

Another example. I suspect PYP opened the door for October Fantasy Month to promote sales of their newest book, Terry Burns' A Writer's Survival Guide to Getting Published. Part of me resents them deeply for playing on the hopes and dreams of would-be writers with their callous attempts to wrest hard-earned cash from the destitute.

Nice, huh? If that doesn't bias them against me, nothing will.

But that's the current socialist culture talking. I will not be a socialist!

Why should I resent someone with valuable information presenting that information in a way profitable to both parties? If Terry Burns really can increase my ability to publish, why should I resent paying him for that information? It is a mutually beneficial exchange. That's what capitalism is. You benefit. I benefit. We all benefit.

And isn't PYP extremely concerned with good marketing? Shouldn't I be happy they're practicing what they preach?

TT: This post probably belongs in Old Fashioned Thoughts, but I started here and here I will finish.

Back to my original question: is this genuine desire to help others something I can learn?

I think it is. I think it comes down to behavior modification, something else Rabbi Lapin discusses at length.

Big Brother says "the mind leads the body." He also says "the body leads the mind." Big Brother is a 30-year practitioner of martial arts. If anybody would know, he would.

Sometimes your brain tells your body what to do, but just as often, your physical response trains your thinking. Martial arts trains the body but in doing so, the mind is also trained.

So, if I act genuinely interested, I will eventually become genuinely interested. That's my plan, anyway. We'll see how it goes.

And for those who now see me as the most self-absorbed person in the Universe, it is my prayer you continue to not relate too closely to my problems.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Winter Is Coming, So Why Am I Up?

This week's low-70s highs and high-40s lows are, for this turtle, a grim reminder of approaching cold.
I used to like Winter. Now that age is creeping into my knees, I understand why Dad wanted to move to Arizona. When all the Turtle relatives are dead, I may follow his intention.

TT: I channelled Dad yesterday morning. I can't remember exactly what happened, but a word came out of my mouth in accents I haven't heard in 24 years. It wasn't a nice word, but it was nice to know Dad is a part of me even now. Oh, dear. I'm crying! Back to topic.

Something else happened yesterday morning. After all the self-pity and wallowing and whatnot, it struck me that Elementals is a good story.

I may not yet have the skill to convey this in a "market-y" manner, but the story is sound. The characters are solid, the danger is real, the stakes are high. It's clean in the right parts and dirty in the right parts and honest in the right parts. It has adventure, fencing, fighting, true love...oh, wait. That's The Princess Bride.

TT: Again, considering some of my posts, you would think my arrogance would extend to believing anything I write to be good. Not so. Just because I like to read my stuff doesn't mean it's good to anyone else. Except Mom. She claims to like everything I've read to her. Bless her.

It was an odd moment. A sort of "surge of confidence," if you will. Naturally it comes when I have little time to do anything about it.

One of the consequences of approaching Winter is shorter days. I do not spring out of bed as I do during the waxing of the Sun. It's more of a slide/drag these days, which reminds me I need to stock up on daylight bulbs. My mornings are dragging, too. I don't think I can blame FB, either. I just seem to be moving slower.

Anyway, it was a good feeling. I don't trust feelings in general, but occasionally they take me to happy places.

So back to the polishing table. Anybody have a suggestion as to how I should market an aging, unpublished know-it-all? I need an "author platform" and I'm willing to pay.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Someone Lend Me a Monkey

I spent a mostly fruitless hour last night trying to add a GoogleAdSense Search bar to my website. You may have noticed I've done the same for this blog without difficulty.

I planned my search box. I picked colors, styles, and sites it could search. I copied, I pasted and I got a huge string of text instead of a neat little search bar. I have no idea what the problem was, and their troubleshooting page didn't offer that particular dilemma or its solution. So either I'm the only monkey in the world who can't copy and paste right, or... Well, that's how it seemed.
I let them know they hadn't helped me. Nicely, of course. I'm always nice.

TT: Normally I would use a phrase like "either I'm the only turtle in the world..." but in real life one of my catchphrases is "monkey-friendly." As in shorthand for "even a monkey could do it." Besides, turtles don't write code.

I need to monetize my website. How can I sell from it otherwise? I'd like to sell some of the soundtracks I use for inspiration. I'd like to sell Starfire and Alpha Redemption and, God willing, Star of Justice and Elementals when their day arrives. This programming attempt is one of those things I'll need to be steady about. I'm fairly smart. I should be able to do it. Even if I am a turtle.

I also created a new email specifically for my website. You can now contact me at ranunculusturtle@gmail.com. Yes, it's a handful to type, but how cool is it? I was pretty sure no one else would have it. Now my business cards will match. And it's good for folks to know a little Latin. Other than carpe diem, that is. Or carpe tortu. I think that's "turtle."

As I read Problogger, I'm trying to take their tips to heart. Yesterday's topic was blog killers. Seems "0 comments" is a huge turn-off to potential readers. Interesting but not entirely surprising. When I started my blog, I asked one of my casual readers why she didn't comment on a post. She told me my posts were too complete. I left no room for comments.

I considered it carefully, decided that was how I wrote (ask My Dear Friend's children and they'll tell you that's how I talk, too) and moved on.

I must now reconsider. Unlike the Problogger audience, I don't intend to earn an income from this blog (though that would be nice). But I do like the comments. They show me I'm reaching someone, and they show others the same thing.

So, being who I am, I started with Virtual Buttercups. I have 73 potential neighbor-readers. I'll see how it goes with them.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Reinventing the Wheel

Things are quiet in the world of Internet writing. I suspect the arrival of October and PYP's fantasy submission month is the cause. Writers are terrible procrastinators and perfectionists. I bet October 30th will be a day of nervous emailing and crammed inboxes.

Oh well. On with the post.

Big Brother has a saying. "Don't reinvent the wheel."

TT: He has a lot of sayings, actually. His most frequent is "If you're gonna be a bear, be a grizzly," but we already know I don't follow that advice.

Reinventing the wheel. It has several connotations. Don't work harder than you must. Use someone else's groundwork to build your "fill in the blank." Don't waste time doing what has already been done.

Has it occurred to anyone else much of what a writer does is "reinventing the wheel?" If this business of writing is first who you know then what you know, each writer must reinvent the wheel through networking.

I can't capitalize on someone else's relationships. I have to make my own. I mean Writer A may introduce me to Editor B, but that doesn't mean Editor B is gonna give a "C" about who I am or what I write.

TT: Nice sidestep, huh?

And what about marketing? Yes, there are steps to follow, but it's wheel reinventing. It's me, going out there and investing that sweat equity, whether it's real or virtual sweat. I have to do the research. I have to write the proposals. I have to book appearances and whatnot. All Wheel Reinventing.

There's no way around it, either. Some steps are covered by a huge publishing company but to sign with them you have to reinvent the wheel to get noticed. And, while it may be easier to get accepted by a smaller publishing company, you have to reinvent the wheel of marketing. 

I suppose the only way to cope with the dilemma is to make it a game. Why care that I'm reinventing the wheel if I'm having a good time doing it?

I haven't quite reached that point yet, but I think it's a good attitude to adopt. A spoonful of sugar and all that.

The marketing books are helping a little. If you want to change your mind, fill it with new ideas.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Many Thanks

You've slogged through the Swamp of Self-Loathing with me, my loyal readers. You have offered comfort and encouraging words. You have upheld me in your prayers. You are all wonderful, patient people. Saints, really.

What's the matter with you?

Doesn't such self-involved deprecation make you want to slap me? I want to slap myself. I would, too, but I'd have to take my glasses off first, and without them, I would miss my face and probably hit a cat. That's no good.

I suspect the real reason for all the compassion is, at one time or another, you've all been where I was. I'm so sorry. When it happens again, let me know. I'll be just as close for you.

Anyway, I love and appreciate you all. Thanks for sticking with me. I'll try to be a bit more upbeat this month. I may start with a post idea I've been courting called "Why Editors Are Jerks, or Dear Editor, I Love You, Please Love Me, Too."

I just need to think up content worthy of the title.

Many thanks to you all.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Self-Loathing Week, Day Five

This should be the last day of this. On the other hand, the weekend is almost here.

My second favorite Buffy episode is "Passion." Angel has lost his soul but not his desire for the slayer, and he spends all 43 minutes with his full attention focused on tormenting her.

Dave Ramsey recommends finding your passion and indulging it for the rest of your life. When you love your work, wealth follows. I've been listening to Dave Ramsey a lot lately. As if you couldn't tell.

I have no passion. Believe me, I've looked.

I care about nothing. Well, that's not true, but I don't care about anything passionately. Except my critters, but I can't make a living out of them.

I'm not passionate about writing. I want to write good stories for God, but I don't believe God "laid these stories on my heart."

Sorry for the quotes there. I'm not scoffing at those who do consider writing their God-given ministry, or who believe God will use their books to reach people. I just don't think my writing books is any more a ministry than anything else I do. I am a Christian who writes. If God wants to bless the readers, more power to Him.

TT: The question of "what is a ministry?" is a big one and has been debated (to death, in my opinion) in other places. I don't care to get into here. I will agree with Ocilla's Mommy that you never know who may be watching, so it is important in all you do to do it for Christ. I would hope all who carry the name "Christian" would strive for that.

What I do notice about other writers is passion. They have it. You have to have it to maintain the level of insanity required to seek publication. Conferences help renew passion. That's why I support them in spirit even if my flesh is weak.

Stupid flesh.

Without passion to motivate me, I'm left with stubbornness. I suppose I could do worse. I'm pretty stubborn. But some days, I wish a had a little passion. Even a smidgen would help.

Hey! Maybe I'm passionate about self-loathing. I've sure enjoyed writing these posts.

And Godspeed to all those submitting to PYP's October Fantasy Month. You have the next 31 days to get your YA book proposals and first 3 chapters emailed. Look up their page on FB for more details.