Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day of Mourning, Or Not

Today, unexpectedly, I got an email from the production editor of the novel being published next year.  Just a couple final questions 8 weeks after I turned in the corrected galleys.  After much upset and gnashing of teeth, I realized this is probably the last book I will ever tradpub.  It's a significant day.  It's the end of a lifelong journey.   I certainly can't imagine submitting anything on my own in the future.  Why do that when there's literally years lag time?

Later today (I thought it would be already), I put Bad Apple on Kindle.  Then I do Sweeps, I guess, if I can figure a cover.  Months ago I said I had enough work facing me that I wouldn't be free until the spring of  '11.  It might even be into the summer, if I'm ever "free" in the same way again.

I don't have anything smart to say, any good advice to offer except don't view my experience as somehow being out of the ordinary.  As much as I like to think of myself as extra-ordinary, in this, I'm not.  The only thing that might set me apart is I'm very willing to give up tradpub while other writers seem to be reluctant. 

La Roue de  la Fortune

The question is raised.  In life, when is the right time to leave?  When do you know for certain things aren't going to get any better?  Are you better off leaving just a little bit early rather than a little too late?  History abounds with examples where people gambled wrongly and lost.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What I'm Listening To

While I finish up kindling Bad Apple, I'll share with you what I'm listening to.
And for those of you at Amazon, here's the link in case you can't stand not knowing

Monday, September 27, 2010

Agents Redux

I started out in books.  Then I got into television.  Then I went back to books.

After television, agents would read my work and say it sounded "soapy".  Initially, I think that was true.  I picked up some bad habits.  But I watched myself very carefully and rid myself of the tics.  The complaints remained.
Then I took a chance and removed my television credits from my resume.  Then no one ever complained I wrote "soapy".  When I put it back, I was "soapy" again.  So for many years I left off a substantial and impressive chunk of my resume.  I was one of the youngest headwriters of a network daytime serial ever.  I didn't dare say that because it would be held against me.  How crazy is that?

The exact same thing happened with my novels.  If my YA credits were on my resume, then my adult books sounded like kid's books.  If I deleted those credits--you got it, no complaints.

I'll give you another problem I faced.  If I used all my credits from the beginning of my career, my writing was dated, I wasn't "with it".  Hint: I was too old to be viable.  If I removed the early books, then I was plenty hip.

Not only am I thrilled with the opportunity to do ebooks on my own, I derive satisfaction from watching tradpub struggling.  One reason it's struggling is that I am only one of many authors who were treated dismissively over the years and we're gone.  Apparently other writers are just as ticked off as I am.  All you have to do is read Joe Konrath's blog for confirmation of that.

So now you don't know how old I am or where I've been or what I've done.  Unless you are clever enough to come here on a regular basis.  In a digital world all the matters is the document in front of you in the Kindle Store.

I like it!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Adding Content

I was going to include a gallery of farm photos in Bad Apple but I changed my mind and made a collage instead.
I enjoy being a girl having a mind to change.  (I also quite enjoy men.  I don't think anyone says that enough.)

Speaking of enjoying men.  Nice segue.  I'm skimming thru Gillian Roberts' The Mummer's Murder or whatever the title is.  There are seemingly endless conversations between the girl detective, Amanda Pepper, and everyone else in Philadelphia.  I think I write better dialog than I do prose, so I'm comfortable with yammering but this is way too much.  I can't even follow it.  But that's not my problem with this book.  I don't like how petty she is with her boyfriend who seems perfectly lovely.  Does this pass as a modern relationship when the woman practically takes a cudgel to the love of her life and does nothing but bitch and moan at him for the slightest little problem of hers?  Be grateful you have someone in your life, Mandy.  But no.  The ungrateful little wench never shuts up.  Sorry, I don't like it, I don't believe it and it's against my religion.   But I don't live in Metropolis so I'm not au courant with the sophisticates.

Next time someone complains about men,  remember who ran into the World Trade Centers as they were burning and crumbling to save people without a thought to their own safety.  Men.  That's what they do best--protect the rest of us.  If that's not honorable and praiseworthy, I really don't know what is.

Friday, September 24, 2010


I have a very ambivalent relationship with agents.  You may have noticed that.
When I started in the business, agents weren't a necessity. But I eventually got one--Carol Mann.  I might as well start naming names.  Nothing was going on in my career particularly, I was doing books for Atheneum.  And I don't even know why we stopped working together although I imagine it was the desire to move into television.

I've had far too many agents.  I wanted it to be like the old days when you got an agent and stayed with them for 30 years.  Of course I think it was Bob Shanks who said agents are best changed every two years, and I suppose that's how it went for me.

Over the years, many agents (not all, not my current agent) have taken on an elitist attitude and given the circumstances it's understandable.  Publishers have made them an integral part of the equation.  Publishers need agents to keep substandard writers away from them otherwise they would be inundated with stupid manuscripts to read.  Agents are also inundated by stupid manuscripts as well as good ones (which they fail to detect on a regular basis), so they've become pressured and rude.  They are psychologically unsuited for the exigencies  of this reality.  Agents who once were helping writers, now see themselves as helping publishers.  They're facilitating the publishing of units (otherwise known as books).

I was somewhere yesterday, some blog, where an agent was frankly stupid enough to complain about writers and that person was lambasted enthusiastically.  I joined in as well, something I don't often do.  It has to take a debilitating sense of elitism and entitlement to insult writers at this point in history when we're running from tradpub to the digital format with great enthusiasm and relief.

I think the question becomes what can a publisher do for me that I can't do for myself.  I actually am hard-pressed to come up with reasons beyond some money up front.   Luckily for agents and publishers, all writers haven't gotten to this point yet.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

When I Use a Word

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."
Through the Looking Glass.

I had an experience yesterday that taught me that even if I choose words with immense care it doesn't matter to the reader.  The words mean only what they mean to the reader, not what they mean to me.

What are the implications of this?  I think, as of this morning, it means that words have ceased having the precise meaning they once had.  Words have become some kind of signpost pointing the way to the reader's personal experience, not necessarily anything the writer is trying to convey.

It's funny/odd/coincidental to now be saying this after Bad Apple has been completed because there's a scene (which I know the meaning of but now I suppose no one else will) in which one character says based on his choice of words "You're not listening to me".  

Instead of the reader identifying with the characters, they now personalize the story.  It's not about the story/written word/book, it's about how the reader identifies with their own experiences. 

This is not good.

Gluyas Williams

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Flattened Affect

It seems to me that in literary novels there's almost no emotion.  In psychological terms that's called flattened affect.  People don't seem to react.  At all. 

Throughout the media people don't seem, to me, to react appropriately to situations calling for heightened emotion. That's not to say we don't see people becoming emotional, hyperemotional really, on television all the time, but that's not an appropriate reaction.

If we want to focus on soap operas which I have some experience with, the earwigs will tell the writers to have all four burners turned up to high all the time.  So you get the chewing the scenery kinds of emotions.  They're not accurate or specific.  I don't know what kind of emotions there are in the Twilight movies.  They all look like they're under heavy medication.

Is there some middle ground ie reality?  Do we live in a society where genuine emotions are becoming rare?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Added Content

I went out yesterday on a mini photoshoot looking for images for the Bad Apple book.  Not the cover, that's done, but for a gallery at the end.

My suspicion is that no one particularly cares now about added content but next year it will be becoming an expected part of every digital book.  It will be like a movie dvd, where people expect behind the scenes interviews, special effects secrets, and previews of coming attractions.

Some books will be crammed to the margins with video interviews of the author, perhaps music, maybe even games.  If tradpub can ever figure this out, they will be way ahead of authopreneurs in this arena because they have the money to invest.  Yet again, though, the whole reason there's a mass defection in paper publishing, is that people like Stephen King will be given the glory treatment and the average midlist author will get nothing.

No one should be surprised if authors say "What's in this for me?" to their agents and publishers.  "What are you giving me?"

It will be progressively more difficult to convince an author that having their book on store shelves for 6 weeks before it's pulped, is better than having it available digitally until the end of time.  Or to add in the financial equation, why turn over your digital rights in perpetuity, reaping the smaller percentage of the royalty pie while the publisher does nothing ever after except to give the author the pleasure of their company.  Briefly.  Very briefly.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Interesting Revelation Today

For writers who had never been published on paper, I suspect if they feel that's the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval and are not completely confident in their writing, they will make any changes suggested by an agent or publisher.

For writers who have been through the tradpub mill and are confident in their writing, is there any reason to accept changes suggested by someone else?

When I was in television, you often find yourself in story meetings.  Seated around a big table, you're surrounded by your fellow writers, the producer of the show, a couple people from the network and possibly some representatives of the advertising company.  There are only a few people who know what they're talking about, the rest are talking through their hats.  But they have the clout.  They can make life difficult for you, they can make you go away.

If some of these people simply accept the good ideas put forth, they don't feel like they've earned their keep.  So they make suggestions.  They're not storytellers, they're not writers, they actually know nothing about the process but they want to be a valuable member of the team.  They need to be or they can be made to go away.

You get input which often makes little sense but your job is to make it make sense.  Except for the money thing, I'm glad I'm out of television.

So this is how I feel about "editors" right now.  I don't think they know as much as I do about the story I've told but they're going to try to inject themselves into my process often without even speaking with me. 

I told my friend today he had no idea what it was like to take the responsibility for someone's crappy ideas.  Whether it's a TV show or a book, someone puts their stamp on it, and you take the fall down the line.  I'm willing to take my own fall.  Okay, I make a mistake, something didn't work, I didn't make it clear enough, you hate my view of the world, you think my morality stinks, all that's fine.  I just don't want to take the rap for someone else.

If I have to prove I'm a good enough writer to be represented or published or aired, how about they prove they're good enough to work with me?

Either Kasachstan Rubin or Moreton Hybrid

Saturday, September 18, 2010

He Was a Bad Bad Boy

And the first draft of Bad Apple is done.

It would have been a more pleasant experience if while I was writing about death, I didn't have to go through one, too.  But I suppose death is always with us.  For some people death doesn't function as a life-check, where you review and test all your beliefs and hope you come out on the other end relatively the same as you went in.

Otherwise someone will probably say to you "You really are a crazy chick."

Friday, September 17, 2010

Freebie Friday

For the next 24 hours, anyone who posts a comment, that includes asking nicely, or sends up a flare somehow  to get my attention can have a PDF copy of Paige, Turning.  If I wasn't working on the Bad Apple thing, I could take the time to build a page on my website and offer it there, but I'm sorry, even as good as Expression Web is, my html skills are pathetic.  Ditto with offering a coupon at Smashwords, and you know how every time I go to Smashwords I wind up with a long post about it.  I don't have the time from now until the book is finished.

Albert Robida

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ten Thousand Words

More or less, I'm guessing until the end of Bad Apple.  But I make no guesses how many days that is.

On the topic of movies I love to pieces, I would like to mention a movie I had never heard of until about 2 years ago.  Star of Midnight was released in 1935.  I have no idea when it was made.  It looks like 1933 to me.  The sets, the clothing, the film stock just doesn't look later than '33 but I can't find much background information about it.  It was made from a novel of the time which when I looked on abebooks was priced at about $40.  I did not buy it.  I'm sure it's not good enough to warrant that price tag.

We all know I think William Powell is terrific, could be the best actor in his genre ever.  He plays an attorney, Clay Dalzell.  Ginger Rogers (also a giveaway to the date of this film because she  looks quite young and fresh) plays an heiress, Donna Mantin.  The machinery of the story is that some singer in Chicago suddenly disappears, leaving her fiance in the lurch.  A year later he shows up on Clay's doorstep missing his Alice.  Smack us upside the head, Alice is now on Broadway, incognito as the star of a play titled Midnight.  And there are a couple murders.  So that part is really death.

What makes this a wonderful movie is the interplay between Donna and Clay, called Dal throughout the film.  Their backstory is that he's substantially older than she is.  When Donna was 11 she ran away from home, arrived at his apartment with the announcement that she was going to marry him.  Now we're at least 10 years later and Donna hasn't changed her mind.  Dal is a playboy and obviously has no intention of settling down.  Donna is the beautiful gal about town yet she can't help herself.

Dal:  Did you tell the gossip columnist that we were engaged?
Donna:  Certainly.

They are too terrific together.  Two masterful actors with good lines can make magic and they do.  The rest is passingly entertaining.

Ralph Morgan (the Wizard of Oz's brother in real life) plays the villain as always.  J. Farrell MacDonald does a fine turn as the lead detective.  You won't understand why the butler looks so suspicious all the time, no one ever has.  The point of this movie is the love story.

IIRC, the NYT review at the time said it was a knockoff of the early Thin Man movie.  No no no.  This is far superior to the Thin Mans if you care about the relationship between the lead characters.  There is, for me maybe you don't agree, no heat or passion between Nick and Nora Charles.  I understand that's heresy.  The URST--unresolved sexual tension--between Donna and Dal is sky high. By the time the lights are turned off, you're shouting "What do you mean we can't go in the bedroom with them?!"

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

At Work

I'm working on Bad Apple, so I didn't go for groceries and I won't do much of a post.  But we've been talking about vampires on and off for a while and I saw an article that  goes into the topic from a scientific perspective 411 on Vampires.  I think my milkshake question is answered by this

"though laypeople might assume that a body would decompose immediately, if the coffin is well sealed and buried in winter, putrefaction might be delayed by weeks or months; intestinal decomposition creates bloating which can force blood up into the mouth, making it look like a dead body has recently sucked blood. These processes are well understood by modern doctors and morticians, but in Medieval Europe were taken as unmistakable signs that vampires were real and existed among them."


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Lesson in Rewriting

I read a manuscript a couple months ago that I liked a lot.  It had so much to recommend it and was just overflowing with vibrant images and intelligence.

I'm always reluctant to say much when someone turns their baby over to me.  What do they really want?  Do they want gushing enthusiasm or do they want a realistic assessment?.  After I had worked in television, we moved to California so I could attempt to get into the business there.  My landlord had written a novel.  It was amateurish and I tried to back away.  He pressed me for an analysis.  I gave him a choice--I could treat him like a hobbyist or I could treat him like a professional.  Boy, did he make the wrong choice.  He wanted me to treat him like a professional, so I did.  By the end of the month we were being asked to move.  Oops.

So after reading this manuscript, I treated the writer as an artist who should make her own choices but pointed to some things in general she could do.

Today she sent the revision back to me.  It was sure nothing I've ever done in all the years I've been writing. Wait, there may be one time but I can't remember it, oh, it's the Bad Apple book with a reservation.  She reimagined the book.  I don't think she saved one paragraph.

No, I've never rewritten a complete book, dumped it, rethought it and then rewrote it from scratch.  Bad Apple went through years of turning the idea around, with various perspectives, various main characters, but I had only written 50 pages when I went in another direction.

I am so impressed at what this woman did and how well she did it. 

The lesson to be learned is don't quit when you've gone the extra mile, keep going until you get it right.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Royal Life Is So Tough

Since my satellite dish is out, I have to rely on my stash of dvds until things are put right.  One of my favorite movies is The Gay Deception with Francis Lederer and Frances Dee.  This was when gay meant happy, way back in the 1930's.

What a terrific movie this is with a fine script, direction by William Wyler, 3 time Oscar winner (Ben-Hur, The Best Years of Our Lives and Mrs. Miniver) and spot-on acting from everyone.

Francis Lederer, a wonderful actor from Europe who never managed to catch on here but should have been a huge star, plays a bellboy but is actually Prince Allesandro of Allesandria.  Frances Dee ( dishy Joel McCrea's wife of 57 years) plays a mousy secretary with big dreams who takes a $5000 windfall to NYC to have a month of living like the elites she has longed to emulate.

The movie is perfection.  There is nothing I don't like about it.  Lionel Stander and Akim Tamiroff do a brief masterful turn as two Allesandrian con-men. 

But as I was watching it for perhaps the 25th time, I began to think about all the movies where royals  need a break from the strenuous life as a royal and decide to mingle with the peasants.  This was Wyler's first outing at this theme as he later did Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck.

We seem to be preoccupied with royals in a way.  In real life, I think Americans have little or no regard for royals except as curiosities.  Of course we loved Diana.  But in America, where the foundation of our beliefs is "All men are created equal" the notion of elites lording it over the population is annoying.  What makes them special?  They don't conduct themselves well--Princess Zara has piercings and Prince Charles should quietly stay at home and quit lecturing the rest of us.  Duchess Fergie famously had her toes sucked in the tabloids and even Princess Diana had more affairs than one can count on two hands and 10 toes.

It would be hard to believe either Charles or his squeeze, Camilla, have had enough of being royals and want only to go down to the pub for a pint.  No, they want Bolly in the palace solarium.

This is an American conceit--that the average citizen has a life so wonderful (true) that the effete royals envy us (they would if they had that much brain power).  You don't see stories like this coming out of Europe where they have had 1000 years of royalty and all that implies.

I'm sure you can come up with other movies that fit into this theme.  About two weeks ago I caught parts of the exceedingly dreary The Prince And Me.  That should kill off the genre for good but it won't.  Some other hapless screenwriter will try to put a new and more modern spin on it, but it will be hard to beat The Gay Deception, which is a work of art.

Francis Lederer

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Truth About Writing

A truth anyway.  The minute you say something that sounds definitive, people get all upset.

Some years ago I was in my agent's office and, I may be remembering this wrongly, but she sort of slumped and said "People just read for entertainment!"  She was trying to encourage me to do/say less in my work.

In an attempt to follow her advice, the novel I have coming out next year is my first published effort at writing a book with no content.  My pal read the book and said the airplanes were more main characters than the humans.  I think that's pretty much of a compliment actually as I love airplanes.

Bridget Jones and all the chicklit books that followed on her spike heels is the pinnacle of having absolutely nothing to say and yet revolutionized/created an entirely new genre of literature.  This chicklit thing that's now pretty much dead,  because people want to read about the real dead--vampires--and reading about Jimmy Choooos is not as sexy as being ravished by a hunky undead guy.

Has anyone ever explained why vampires need blood to "exist"?  Wouldn't milkshakes be just as good?

I read a post elsewhere about Tru Blood (based on the Sookie Stackhouse books) on one of the premium channels and since I wouldn't watch it even if I could sanction paying for all that junk, I was shocked at the goings on.  It sounded like pornography.  And women and gay men really like it.

So apparently this is what readers and viewers want.  Entertainment without content.  Unless vampires and chicklit actually has content I'm not aware of, in which case, please post a comment and explain it to me.

Cinematically, the German director, F.W. Murnau, showed the world the first really popular vampire in I think it was 1922 but I'll go check.  Yes, shot in 1921 and released in 1922.  That makes it in public domain for anyone who wants to find it on the net and download it.  It's a classic.  This isn't quite the Frank Langella sexy vampire you might be be conjuring up in your mind's eye.  Imagine being ravished by this fine fellow.  (What am I missing?!)

F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Truth About Me

I can be a weak woman.

I just finished (aka skimmed) Ellen Crosby's lastest mystery the nearly unpronounceable  Viognier Vendetta.  Luckily, smartly, she takes pity on the audience, and tells us how it's pronounced otherwise, we're screwed.  It put me in a bad mood because I'm not really interested in stupid people and her main character and the former love interest are achieving new levels of emotional stupidity.  I'm really not interested in how bad life can be, I'm more interested in how to make it all work.  I think that's the Jewish thing to do, at least it's the Chassidic thing to do.  And since we're in the holiday/holy season, it's a good time to remember the teachings.

After her last book I wondered if I'd read the 4th but Ellen Crosby is, compared to what's being published in the mystery genre, a really good writer.  She's a professional.  So I thought, no, I'm not spending any money on it, but I'll get it through interlibrary loan.  Good thing, too.  Right choice.

Any comments I'd have about this book are more about me so would be worthless to you.  But in a theoretical sense--why do we write?  Do we write for ourselves, which would be some kind of therapy?  Do we write for others?  Why would we do that?  Do we seek to entertain?  Are we pontificating?  Are we so clever we know more about life than the readers?  Is our work the way in which we serve?  If so, does that make us responsible to our readers and in what way would that be?

Rebbe Schneerson taught that you never know when your one good act will be the one that changes the world, so you must strive to do good every day.  Light even a small light against the dark.  Let that be your contribution.

So here's my problem with Ellen Crosby's characters and I'm just using them as examples but I could pick up 10 books and would be able to say the same about 9 of them.  I don't think the reader is left with anything positive to see characters flailing around in their self-inflicted emotional morasses. People learn by seeing.  Seeing characters wound themselves and others doesn't teach us how to live our lives more effectively.

I can hear you shouting from here.  "This is real life."  No, it's not.  It's fiction.  Ellen Crosby made a choice to have her characters hurt each other.  I know people really like this kind of thing.  It seems real and edgy and reflects their own lives.  I don't know why they like it.  Maybe someone will post a comment and explain it to me.

It doesn't reflect my life, or my beliefs or my work.  Life doesn't have to be like that.  Real life, not fictional life.  I used to be such an existentialist.  I thought life was a wasteland.  I thought the best movie ever was The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner.  I thought Terrence Mallick was a demi-god among directors.  I thought Horton Foote understood the universe in some kind of clever and magnificent, bleak, barren way.

Then I grew up.

Why am I a weak woman?  Because I will probably read Ellen Crosby's 5th book, too.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bad Writing, and What In G d's Name Can We Do About It

I gotta stay away from Smashwords.  That's the lesson of the morning.

I wish I could copy and paste the first sentence of a story that's just been published there.  It's 63 words long.  I can safely assure you I have never written a sentence 63 words long.  I don't even want to deal with how bad the length alone is.  I'll attempt to explain the story's situation--thankfully only 1 page of this 3 page masterpiece is available for preview.  A 15 year old is asleep in her bed dreaming of her boyfriend who inflames curious sensations deep within her body (how deep, one wonders) and wakes to find she's sorta being raped.  Her breath is frozen in her lungs, she's unable to cry out but then fortuitously remembers there's a huge 160 lb. dog in the room which she then commands to attack her rapist (the dog has inexplicably slept through the rape).  Then apparently her gay father and his boytoy bust into the room and swoop up the now 12 year old girl into their protective arms while the rapist bleeds out from his torn carotid artery.  Poor dog, what a trauma for her.  Gabrielle (Guilietta?  Raphaela?)   Just try to get all those syllables out when you're being crushed by the odorific body, reeking breathed rapist who's got your mouth covered with his.

I taught writing for a while.  Some people want to learn and others are just so pleased with themselves, there's too much ego-static to penetrate in order to convince them what they're doing stinks on ice.  I also edited scripts when I worked in television so I've seen my share of really dreky writing. 

I'm not a therapist and a lot of bad writing results from psychology problems.  Narcissism will do that to you.  Lack of knowledge of the basics of the English language can be another cause.

So what do we do about it? 

1) Don't bother trying to edit it.  Einstein couldn't figure it out.
2) Don't bother trying to help the writer see the error of his ways.
3) Don't bother trying to read it, it's a waste of time and will only annoy you.

Shanah Tovah (Happy New Year) to everyone who winds up here this week.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Let's Talk About Covers

I just went to Smashwords to check on NLM which has been pending for 2 weeks (now they have a problem with the way the copyright was phrased) and I unfortunately looked at the recently published books.

First rule--if you're not a pretty good artist, don't attempt drawing the cover illustration yourself. 

I don't know what more to say about it.  There's nothing that screams amateur more.  If you can't find or afford an artist to work with, find a photo or vector art.

There are a number of stock photo sites where you can purchase the rights for a very minimal amount of money--and I mean under $20.  Isn't it worth $20 or $12 to have decent art for the cover?

Free, in public domain images-- Public-domain-photos 
5 images for $50--Shutterstock 
Even less expensive than shutterstock-- Fotolia

Go to Flickr and look around.  If you see something you like, approach the photographer and make an offer.

Deviantart is a terrific site not only to get ideas (plus lots of free brushes, gradients, backgrounds and hints for photoshop) but to see what people are doing.  Most of it is pretty darn good, some of it not so much.  Go there and look around.  If you see something, the artist or photographer may be perfectly willing to let you use it for a credit or a small fee.

You are not doing yourself and the community of authopreneurs any favors by being unprofessional.

I understand how great it is to think you're going to be published but once you finish the writing of the book, you have to switch hats.  You must be dispassionate, even cruel, to your work, because if you don't cross the threshold into professionalism, other people can and will be very cruel in the assessment of your efforts.  You invested a huge amount of time, effort and emotion in your book.  Don't put it up for derision because you didn't take time to spell check or get a sharp, eye-catching cover.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

One Bad Apple

I was going to call the story One Lost Soul.  The man who murdered my acquaintance said that in his confession.
He referred to both himself and his victim as lost souls.  Or he was the victim or the perpetrator was the victim.  It was incredibly messy.  I probably was the only one who was trying to sort through the layers of emotion--that's not the province of the police, or his friends, or his sister.  Why was this murder committed?   It just was, isn't a very good answer.  Joe was sent to prison for 45 years for felony murder.  In the course of robbing the victim, Joe murdered him.  The end.  There was too much information in the house, in the possessions of the victim to not see the root of the murder was not in the minor theft of a television set and an older pickup truck and the victim simply got in the way.  There was more to it than that.  I do agree with you, Joe.  You were both lost souls.

I think this is the cover.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

And, of course, I will be working on Sweet Cider.  I also have a bad apple to take a photo of.  I also need to make a white peach tort.  Busy busy busy.

A new twist to the book turned up this week.  I don't know why it didn't occur to me earlier and I suppose the answer is that books are not like Venus on the Half-Shell.  They, for me, do not arrive fully formed.  They more or less fall together over time.  Like a good wine, an idea needs to age.

That's not to say I haven't written books in 3 weeks and they've gone on to do quite well.  I was there then, now I'm elsewhere.

I read somewhere in the last few days that 16% of the population is what drives Madison Ave. and the entertainment business.  It's a very narrow age range consisting primarily of late teens to somewhere in the 20s. This is a group who feels (as I did, yes I said it and I routinely drove twice the speed limit, got cars airborne and on 2 wheels, like this reckless driving is a recent invention) they know everything.  Well ya don't.  Time, if allowed, is a great bestower of wisdom.  You see how life works in the laboratory of your life.  You will be smarter later.  If you take time, step out of your echo chamber and expose yourself to real life, you will be smarter faster.

The result of all this is we get entertainment and products that appeals to a small segment  of the population, one not routinely praised for their gravity.  That's the audience for whom the poignant and thoughtful art film Hot Tub Time Machine was created.  This is not to offend anyone in that age group (like Jess) who is visiting here.  Obviously your fine and mature taste in blogs, demonstrates you are not of them.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Our House Is A Very Very Fine House

With 2 12 cats in the yard....

I'm not a cat person but the cats found me.  Many of them feral, Charm Boy and Mrs Awiggins are quite friendly.  I understand why Mrs finds Charm Boy well...charming, but since he's black as night, I know all the black kittens belong to him.  Her last litter of 4 produced 3 very friendly kittens and 1 who doesn't get that the evil human buys $40 of food a month to keep them alive. 


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What Did They Know and When Did They Know It

Or what did they feel and when did they know it.

It's always good to check in on your characters.  What did they know about themselves and the situation in a particular scene.  Be able to expound on that in detail.  Sometimes it's difficult because we are treated to shallow emotions and responses in television and films all the time.  Life becomes a plot point for lazy writers or those who do not have much life-experience to draw upon.

Let's talk about the photo I took yesterday.  It's only cropped not Photoshopped.  The foreground is moderately interesting.  I like the blue and green, I like the movement of the water.  But your eye is drawn forcefully to the light rocks on the bank.  There the water is still.  Because there is a horizontal line moving across the image, your eye is quickly drawn to the right side of the photo into the darker foliage.

We need to see life in a deeper, more layered way.  It's there.  We're not.

Back to the Cider book.