Saturday, October 29, 2011
After pondering the possibilities, I started at the beginning. Page one. With a red pen. Several hours later, I'm up to page sixty-six...out of one hundred and eighty two pages. I suspect it will be a while before I finish.
Every author I know will tell you they find cringe-worthy issues if they read their work after a considerable time period has gone by. Then, every error, stupid mistake, awkwardly constructed sentence will leap out at the author, seizing them by the throat and screeching, "Do you see me now?"
You might ask, why doesn't the author set the work aside, then? Why not allow it to simmer on the back burner? I suspect it has something to do with income. Lost income. If the book is sitting on the side, it's not earning money for the author. It's as simple as that. Could it possibly be a better book if it simmered a while? Yeah, probably.
But in the current publishing climate, a book that is sitting only generates a loss of income and a loss of face time. You know what that is--it's the presence of your book cover prominently displayed so your readers remember who you are! In the electronic book market, with zillions of books to choose from, a lull of several months between books can mean the difference between some sales and a lot of sales.
There is a reason some authors seem to be banging out book after book. Every new book places their name out there to remind readers of their books--not just the newest one, but their entire backlist--because in the electronic world, books never go out of print. They're always available.
Unless a writer has an enormous following (J.K Rowling and Nora Roberts, I'm looking at you), he or she will spend an inordinate amount of time battling for that precious face time. It might be on the social media such as Twitter and Facebook. It might be on Amazon, Sony, Fictionwise and other electronic bookstores. But wherever it is, it's more valuable than gold.
No one knows what the magic formula is. Some authors take part in blog tours. Some spam their "friends" on the social media. Some post excerpts from their books--or have special pages for their characters. Whatever they choose to do, none of it matters if the finished book is a hodge-podge of errors, typos, and even in one case, part of a chapter missing.
I could submit Shadows on Stone as is. But now that I am reading it, the occasional typos and errors and odd word choices are screaming. What are they saying?
"Do you see me now?"
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Occasionally, something falls.
A while back, a fellow writer (we'll call her Betty Lou) asked me to give her my opinion about something she'd written. Now let me say two things right off the bat: A) I always try to be unflinchingly honest when you ask me for my opinion. After all, why would you ask, otherwise? B) I do my very best to never give my opinion in a hurtful or belittling manner.
So. The story was a cute story. There was nothing wrong with it. It was simply less than the type of story Betty Lou usually wrote. Fluffy and light. I wrote to her with this observation. Immediately she wrote back siting stressful issues in her home life and commented she needed something light to balance those stresses out. I agreed. After all, I've utilized my own writing in the same way.To my way of thinking, I had fulfilled my part.
Fast forward to the next few months. Betty Lou gradually drew away, moved on to other friends, grew cooler when e-mailing, etc. While I couldn't figure out why, I also know we all go through ebbs and flows in our friendships. With a mental shrug I, too, moved on.
Then a little while ago another friend (we'll call her Irma!) mentioned in a casual conversation that I had really hurt Betty Lou's feelings when I stated my opinion about her story. I was a little dumbfounded. And taken-aback.
I've been thinking about this since my conversation with Irma. My friendship with Betty Lou has moved on. The past is the past. But it occurs to me that there are no doubt other people who may feel slighted or ignored--especially in the past year or so. I want to say to you, it was not intentional on my part. I should be a better friend. Really. Sometimes I just can't keep everything juggling at one time. And for that, I am sorry.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
And voila! The day is over. Just like magic.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I'll do better tomorrow!
Monday, October 24, 2011
Now hoodies are fine on a young person. Really. But at sixty-two, I find wearing a hoodie is a bit infantile and unprofessional...unless I'm camping in the woods. So I'd like to know who makes a jacket without a hood! After roaming for quite a while, I gave up and decided to crochet a jacket for myself. A jacket without a hood.
Pretty cover, right? On December 1, Yule Be Ours, a futuristic holiday menage will be released by Scarlet Harlot Press. It will also be released as part of the Scarlet Kisses anthology with Amarinda Jones and Berengaria Brown. Keep your eye peeled for more information posted right here!
OR you can find the info on my newly revamped webpage at www.annycook.com Check it out. Try out all the pages. Send me a message. Tell me what you think!
That's it. It's been a long day. And a Monday. Tomorrow is another day. I believe it will be Tuesday...
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Surely not in America.
Surely not in the good old U S of A!
Well, yeah. In a world where any picture can be photoshopped, any video can be manipulated, and every candidate changes his/her stance on the issues more often than he/she changes their underwear, there is no one left to believe.
Everyone has an agenda. And if you don't agree with their agenda, you're the enemy. Worse than that, you're unenlightened, obviously in favor of hate crimes or war or greed. Nay, you are evil incarnate.
When did our ideals stop serving the many and start serving the few? No, I'm not talking about that 99% and 1% nonsense. I'm talking about concern for our neighbors and those less fortunate than ourselves. Now it's every man for himself.
Yeah, I know about the job shortage. I have four children all praying their jobs won't disappear down the sinkhole of politics and economics. But here's the truth no one wants to talk about. If we the people hadn't spent so much time and effort grabbing for more than our share of brass rings, if we had stopped and considered the consequences when we shopped at one-stop stores instead of supporting local business, if we had taken a second to think about the consequences of that easy line of credit, and if we hadn't settled for foreign merchandise that was made overseas in sweatshops because we saved a dollar or two...then things might be different now.
There is no easy fix. Anyone who promises you an easy fix is lying. Just as a person sinking in debt must have a plan, our country needs a plan. If the debtor truly desires to crawl from his pit, then he must give up something. Maybe many somethings. He must be persistent and in for the long haul.
All I hear is "fix it now"! Well, I don't suspect that will happen. I suspect the politicians will keep promising miracles until the country collapses under the weight. And at that point, there will be no services. None. People will die. Lawlessness will reign. And money will be an obsolete concept.
No, I'm not some strange whacko. I'm just a simple woman who looks beneath the shiny surface at grim reality.
Monday, October 17, 2011
When I was younger, life centered around the hunk going off to work and the kids going to school. Now those things are irrelevant. Each day has a sameness unbroken by schedules. I've come to the conclusion that it is that sameness that makes retirement more difficult.
Two weeks pass...three weeks...and suddenly entire years have gone by unremarked. The passage of time is more swift--and alarming--because you don't realize it's gone until you look at a calendar. It's mid-October already. Wait! Where did the year go?
Friday, October 14, 2011
A dear friend and I once discussed different genres and she admitted she didn't read any book that wasn't real. So fairy tales and paranormal stories and the entire collection of science fiction wasn't in her to-be-read pile. Never will be.
I, on the other hand, cannot seem to write anything real. No matter what I do, my characters insist on hailing from way out areas...as in other planets. Or they have odd talents. Or they're weird colors. But mostly, they're not real. They're other.
Another friend once counseled me to write what I know. Evidently, this is it. I think I must be living somewhere else on a planet far, far away in my dreams. Maybe I communicate with my relatives during the dark hours right before dawn. Perhaps...I really do carry a secret zucchini peeler that I wield with fierce fury against the bad guys.
I wonder if there's a twelve step group for people like me. And what would the twelve steps consist of? To whom would we make amends? Our families for dragging them into the insanity? Hmmmm. I must consider the consequences here.
On the other hand if I had a firm grip on reality I probably wouldn't feel comfortable wearing my favorite t-shirt anymore. You know that one that says "I'm in my own little world--it's okay, they know me here." Who would I give it to if I couldn't wear it? Maybe...nah, I think I'll just hang out where I am...
Monday, October 10, 2011
I'm rethinking that, though.
For months I've been in a funk, sinking in a morass of family emergencies, poor financial future prospects, and just plain discouragement about my writing. My fellow writers have been quick to support and encourage me, but that just didn't seem to provide the kickstart I needed.
Then I went to RomantiCon. For three days I wandered around, talking to fellow writers and editors. I won an award for one of my other series. I commiserated with other writers who are also sinking in their personal swamps of despair. I was both disheartened and encouraged when I realized I wasn't the only one struggling.
On the way home--an eight hour drive--I had plenty of time to mull things over. It was during that drive that the ideas came to me for two new Flower books (Gardenia and Azalea.) On Wednesday last week I started Gardenia. And immediately came to the conclusion I needed to reread the series as a refresher.
It's been an illuminating experience. There were many details I'd forgotten, of course. I have a note sheet full of scrawled bits and pieces I'll need to add to my new story.
But more importantly, I discovered something about myself.
I can write.
Oh, there are things I would change if I was writing the stories now. Technical issues. I used the word that a lot. And in noticing the word, it occurred to me I've learned and changed in the five years since I wrote Chrysanthemum. But notwithstanding my growth, even back then I was a writer.
Due to some scheduling issues, Chrysanthemum was my first book published, though it was the fourth book I actually wrote. By the time Chrys came along, I was desperately in need of a mental break. And I was unwittingly wise enough to seize it when it came along.
Chrysanthemum and the other Flowers are pure insane fluff. That's what I needed at that time in my writing life. A while back I was critiquing a book for a fellow author. One of the things I noted was that the book seemed a little "light and fluffy" compared to her previous books. I believe I hurt her feelings though that was not my intent at all.
She wrote back that life was rough for her at that point (and it definitely was) and conceded she needed to write something light and fluffy. She needed that to help her get through the hard times she was dealing with.
I owe her an apology. I didn't realize until now just how much I need something light and fluffy. And I totally understand now that light and fluffy doesn't mean poorly written or shoddy workmanship. Actually, it's harder to write something light than write something deep and thoughtful--at least for me.
So I'm ready to plunge in to the adventures of Gardenia and her twin sister, Azalea. For those familiar with the Flowers series, they are Honeysuckle's daughters...with all that implies. And a certain zest has seized my writing spirit in anticipation.
Friday, October 7, 2011
My words of wisdom--which will no doubt be ignored--Wake up! Stay alert! Or you too, may be taken unaware.
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
And then, abruptly, you're back home. But it still takes a few days to resettle. I drove both ways to RomantiCon so I had plenty of thinking time. When I arrived home, I had a couple new ideas for stories, but I found my brain's still fuzzy so I suppose it will take a couple days to settle down.
In the meantime...life will move on.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
There were some standout moments, of course. That first rush when you meet up with the friends you've been looking forward to seeing. The first time someone says, "I love your books." Pawing through the "goody" bags we always receive from our publisher every year...
But special moments were too numerous to capture.
Standing outside in the cold, windy dark as the Cavemen lit up the night with a fabulous fire dance.
Sitting around a table, sharing lunch with my first editor, Aussie Helen, and fellow authors (past and present) from the frog pond. Tasting Vegemite. And consuming Tim-Tams. Catching up with writers from all over the country--and some from much farther away.
Lining up with my fellow cave women on Friday night while we waited for dinner. There were a LOT of them in cheetah prints. *grin*
Checking out the futuristic costumes at the awards dinner on Saturday evening. Believe me, it was surreal. Eye-popping. Unbelievable. And then...
Receiving a Superstar Award for my Mystic Valley series was the cherry that topped off my weekend. I wasn't looking for that at all!
Finally, meeting lots of wonderful readers at the book signing on Sunday. That was great!
If I listed all the people I was thrilled to visit with this weekend, we would still be here next weekend. But my memories will carry me through for quite a while. And Boy Toy? Just know--I've got your back...any time.