Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Lyrics Have Meaning

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Is anyone concerned that this book advocates male dominance that borders on abuse?, May 30, 2012
As a literature instructor and avid reader of fiction and romance, this is THE first time I've actually stopped mid way into a book due to physical nauseau. Besides that fact that I agree with most reviews that the wording is childish and the sex scenes are unbelievable, the fact that a young girl is masochistic and feels the need to please a billionaire by being his pet slave is disgusting. What kind of message does this heroine send to young women reading it? As a survivor of an abusive relationship, this brought back memories of control and oppression that I never want to experience again, even in a fictional novel.



Question--Is Anyone Concerned?
Answer--No.

This is what the audience wants.

You give them something else and they're really not all that gung ho about it. 

Stupidly I thought women's liberation was about some kind of equality.  We don't have to get into the politics of it--I have a lot to say but this isn't the place.   I grew up in an era in which girls had a lot of expectations on them, they were supposed to dress a certain way and behave in a certain way.  Then wow.  Women's lib.  Oh finally the end.  Women can be photojournalists (Not at the Danbury News-Times they couldn't be) they could whatever and great.  What did it turn out to be.  A catastrophe over all but no change if not losing ground.  We have younger girls being sexualized, more expectations on their conformity and behavior than ever and the perception that abuse is love is now a huge bestseller and soon to be a major movie picture.  Refer back to Lesley Gore.  "What can I do?"  The complete opposite of empowerment alive and well today. 

But no one reads for meaning and no one listens to the lyrics.  It's all there in front of us.  It's always been there.
It's not what people want to think about.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In The Weeds

If you want a good laugh go to Amazon and read the reviews for Fifty Shades of Grey.  If you don't know about this book series, it began as fanfic based on the Twilight books, called Master of the Universe or something.  Apparently the similarities are obvious except that there are no vampires and lots of sex.  Abusive sex.  I'm not reading it to find out.  But the reviews are hilarious and fascinating in that either they're 5 star "These are the best books ever written!!11!!!! eleventy!" or 1 star "Was this written by a 16 year old girl?"

You can't read through all of them because there are about 5,000 but a sample will make you wonder how people can read the same book and have opinions 180 degrees in opposition.  Some of the people who really like it call themselves non-readers.  So what were they appreciating about this book?  There's no way to tell but to say it appeals to some and not to others whether it's because of background or past reading experience or life experience, expectation.  You don't know what a reader is bringing to the book and what about the book will either excite them or annoy them.

Update:  Unheard is live at both Amazon and BN now so that's good.  I also just laughed myself silly reading the new reviews of Fifty Shades of Grey.  I take comfort in knowing nothing I do can be that bad.  Also, it should be pointed out, nothing of mine will ever find the huge audience those books did.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Unheard

I can easily say never again because there are no more backlist books I'm insane enough to tackle.  This was worse than writing it from scratch because you foolishly try to keep stuff.  Scott Fitzgerald wrote the first draft, then threw it away and wrote the second draft from memory.  That would have been smarter to do.

Off topic--I wonder how Scott would feel about Leo diCaprio playing Jay Gatsby.

I had a professor in college who said that no performance of Shakespeare ever lived up to what she imagined.  Okay.  I prefer seeing the things myself.  But it makes me wonder if there are literary characters that defy film.  Maybe Jay Gatsby is one.  Robert Redford?  No.  Whether Jay Gatsby/Gatz/Katz was Jewish or not, Robert Redford doesn't reek of being on the outside looking in.  He's too handsome, too confident.



Jay Gatsby is someone who's afraid of his inner nebbish.

So Unheard.  What's there to say.  It'll be live when BN and Amazon get to it.  It's a better book than Renie Lake and I hope people find it.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Amazon's Algorithm For Select

Full of math, you can  read about it here Edward Robertson.

There is also what James Lewis experienced here James Lewis.

I'm summarize what they both said.  It ain't working anymore.

Giving away books used to work but it doesn't really impact sales now.  What did I say months ago?  The GIMME CAP STRATEGY.  Only give away stuff that isn't valuable to you.  Like the buttercup book.  If you think that momentary burst of visibility will help you, then go with Select.  It's a gamble.  Repeat.  It's a gamble. 

If you just want people to see what you do, Select is great.  Ish.  It's a good place to experiment or do something different just for your satisfaction.

I'm sure, no really I am, that it is super for some people and they'll tout its glory.  Those writers are now outliers.  You can't make a gameplan based on outliers.  You're already an outlier and you have to come up with your plan specific to your work.  Note that I didn't say book.  A book is too small of a concept at this juncture in publishing.  You have to think big/long-haul/career.

I don't know what else to say.  Write something super commercial.  People will find you.  Or write what you want to write but tradpub was a roadblock and hope people find you.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Happy Memorial Day Weekend

Some idiot took a fire extinguisher to the Eternal Flame in Australia.  It commemorated lives lost in WWI.
Why would you do this?  To feel powerful?
This has to be someone who has something broken inside.  Why are there so many people broken inside?

Instead of continuing to go there, I'll leave you with this image and go back to Unheard.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Buttercups Rule!

In Real Life Who The Heck Knows

This is just an observation and a fortuitous placement this morning because GoodReads doesn't list books either alphabetically or chronologically or any other way that I can figure out.  I've never seen the two side by side before.


Okay.  Basically the same book.  I did update, tweak and revise the older one and published it digitally as Just Kate.  It's the better book, more fully realized, better focused, deeper.

Just Kate does not work for the readers at GoodReads.

In Real Life I'm Just Kate does.

I don't understand.

Buttercups Freebie Weekend

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0084UZ4ZY

Then I was treated to a forum underneath the listing with the heading "How to Avoid Indie Books".  They want Amazon to flag the indie books so they are more easily avoidable.    I saw this on my Nook and couldn't find it when I went to the desktop.  So definitely for these people--please stay away from indies.  And you who posted about  liking sci/fantasy, don't bother with that Hugh Howey guy, he's really indie so no good, why don't you just wait till the Ridley Scott film comes out of Howey's novel Wool?

Apparently the dissonance created by the death of tradpub is not only in tradpub.  Some readers can't tolerate the disconnection either.

Here's the reality.  Indie publishing is here to stay.  It's part of the modern world, modern technology.  As it rises, trad pub will diminish.  Some of it will be awful, some of it will be good, some of it will be spectacular.  Just like indie music.

I'm somewhat excited by the prospect of getting some really clueless reviews on the Buttercup book.  Since it lacks text, someone has to complain!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Apple Blossom Book

Yes, I gathered 12 images together and made an essay of them, too.  I'll put that up as a freebie next month which is not very far away now.



Let's review my experiences with freebies.  They don't work.  I've never seen appreciable sales on other books because something else was free.  I had one review on the Verrine book that said she got it as a freebie.  I have had no other reviews so identified--but I don't seem to excite people to go on and write reviews either.

I'll stick to my belief that most people pick up freebies not because they're particularly interested in *that* book rather they grab books that are free and like squirrels hide them away for a rainy day.  They may never read them.

This is somewhat related to the very nice sales of Not Low Maintenance last spring.  Thousands of copies were sold at 99 cents.  I think it has 14 reviews.  You would think there would be more.  For 99 cents, they could download it with the intention of reading it sometime in the future.  I have books on the Nook that I'll read someday, I can't imagine why I'm so different in that regard from other people.  If the book cost $2.99 or more, I think that's a big incentive to get your money's worth and read the thing.

So I'm saying higher prices probably make better sense/cents all around.

You're probably saying "This woman doesn't make any sense.  She says freebies don't work and she's putting books up for free."

I do write as a professional.  When I gave up being a photographer, I stopped being a professional.  These are photos that for one reason or another aren't appropriate for stock photo sales but they are still attractive and I'd like people to see them.  It doesn't cost me anything to publish them, I already have them in the camera, an investment in a couple hours of formatting is better than playing Boggle.  That's the explanation.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Shifting Sands of The Digital Word

Yesterday I published The Buttercup book which admittedly has very few words and most of them are that copyright stuff.

Today I saw a better buttercup so revised the photos and uploaded the new version.

This is not the one I added but it's a good one.

There was a post I didn't bother to read that was a lament by someone older and more tired than even me about his backlist and he didn't have the energy to get involved with this new technology.  I'm sorry for him and sometimes I get tired too but there was a point in my life when I felt I had nothing left to say in the YA realm.  So I switched to something else.  If you have nothing left to say then you probably don't have the energy or fire to get involved with publishing.  And yeah it's true that it can be a big mistake to look at things you wrote when you started out because every book leaves you in a new smarter place.

I understand why he doesn't want to touch his old work, there's part of me who tells me I should never have touched Renie Lake.  But gee, when I read the new scenes with Jan, I'm enchanted by what I set up but wasn't smart enough to go there years ago. 

You can change anything.  Maybe that's good.  Maybe that's not good.  Maybe some things shouldn't be so flexible.  I like being able to change my mind.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Buttercups


That may have been more of a distraction than I needed from Unheard.  It took about 6 hours to put together 12 images and get it uploaded which includes a phone call to Amazon because when you transfer content from the computer to your device if you bought it it goes in books, if you DIDN'T BUY IT, it goes in documents.  This only applies to the Kindle Fire--so the tech told me.  I told him that's not how the Nook works and he said that's not how any of the other Kindles work either.  Instead of computers ever getting easier, they just get worse and more complicated.

So 12 images of buttercups.  One is really amazing.  At least I thought so.  Just something to look at.  I'm going to put it on Select and let it be free just so people can enjoy the photos.  I know no one will buy the book, but better if 200 people look at it than 0.


I find that to my eye the Nikon is a little bit on the under-exposed side of the spectrum.  It's probably correct.  But this is more about what looks good to the photographer.



At any rate, Unheard should be done by the end of the month.  I thought it would take a week.  Then I thought I would be done this weekend.  Obviously not.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I Found a New Distraction!

Anything to keep me from finishing Unheard.  How about a book of photos of buttercups?


Let me point out the nice little bokeh in this photo (that's the circles you can see created by the aperture opening).

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fighting The Last War

No idea why this came to me this morning.  Had no idea who sang it or what the title was.  Almost needless to say these sentiments could hardly be expressed today.



I don't spend vast amounts of time going from one writing/book blog to another, but I am aware of a few and what is said there.  In general, it seems they are fighting the last war.  We're in a digital age with indie publishing.  Whoever wants to do tradpub doesn't really need any advice.  They're already missing the important part--stay away from it.  If you're Ms Bestselling Author you also don't need any advice.

Being in digital and getting advice from people mired in the past is not going to be very helpful.  Good writing is good--always, timelessly--but how you're going to approach the other moving elements is very different.  The answers aren't always known.  Kindle is 3 or 4 years old, BN is 2, Kobo isn't even open yet.  This is a new adventure.

Change is difficult.  Some people do it more easily than others, some are very resistant, some are downright cranky about it.  You can see this as you go from site to site.

Keep your head down, write.  Keep writing.  Like the Magic 8 Ball says-- things will become clearer.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cinemagraph

Since it's pouring here, I don't have a lot of possible shiny objects to distract me from Unheard so I reworked the grasses.


For those of you who might want to try this, the key is to choose an image where one element can be easily isolated.  This image is not good at all.  If you think back to the subway cinemagraph, that's easy to isolate.  The taxi reflection in the window.  Easy, it's a rectangle.  Trying to isolate blades of grass is dumb.  It works but other vids would lend themselves to this experiment much better.

I think what appeals to me about the cinemagraph is the same thing that appeals to me about still photography and also my writing.  Because the image is unmoving your eye is caught by the only elements in motion which focuses your attention on that.  I want to pay greater attention to the significant details I miss.  It would be nice if anything I do causes people to pay attention, too, but I don't think about that.  I only want to focus my own attention.

Unheard.  I got to the end.  Yes, I rewrote most of the last half of the book and I mean I tossed it out.  They weren't line edits.  Now I have to revisit the first half and track everything.   Like with the Kate book, getting the chance to rethink it produced something I consider better.  Will anyone else?  Very few people will read both and compare.  They'll just read this and probably compare it to the Disney show with the deaf girl.


Monday, May 14, 2012

Grass In The Rain

My first attempt at a cinemagraph.


Reality Check



When I think I have it hard, I think of Melody Gardot and then I keep going.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Theft of Expectation

The last thing you expected was to come here today and get ruminations on Chassidic/Jewish teachings.  Stick with me, I'll keep it brief and you'll see how it's applicable to all of us.

This week was all about money and expectations.  We had several temper tantrums mostly aimed at Amazon usually from publishers but this week from agents.  They expected (erroneously) that they would feed at the trough forever but technology changed and now they are very close --if not already there--to being on the outside looking in.  My heart does not break for them.

When I went into a contractual relationship with an agent I had certain *expectations*--that they would READ the material in a timely fashion, respond to it, and then submit it to publishers in a timely fashion.  This rarely happened, so rare that I can only think of one agent who actually did this and that was Jane Dystel.  She deserves to be mentioned for that.

For an agent to take a writer on and not do the above is THEFT OF EXPECTATIONS.  If you knew it would take 9 months for the agent to not bother to read your novel or lose the manuscript under their sofa (all instances mentioned in this post will be actual incidents), you might not have signed on to be treated so shabbily.  This is the standard.  Now that writers have digital/independent publishing and the choice to not be abused, the former abusers are protesting loudly and flailing at everyone.

We won't talk about how they have been stealing us blind all these years--that's another kind of theft.

What does the reader expect from the writer?  ....Um, I'm not sure, but I'll say an entertaining, diverting or informational book.  That could mean many things to many people, but that probably covers the basics.

What does the writer expect from the reader?  Wow.  New thought.  That never entered the discussion
before. 

This is a contract.  For our purposes here you can't have 1 sided expectations.  To the dismay of our cousins across the pond win-win is still the optimal outcome.

If a reader expects the writer's best work, what does the writer expect?  To earn a life sustaining living, to be treated respectfully, and to have the work supported so that the audience grows.  A writer should not expect to be chastised, demeaned, or lectured to by a reader.  That's not polite no matter how their expectations may have been crushed.

That's really all I have to say about expectations.  You can think about it for yourself and see if it makes any sense to you.

Over 2000 years ago someone, seemingly a little on the arrogant side, approached Rabbi Hillel, a very great man.  He challenged Rabbi Hillel by saying something like "If Judaism is so great, can you explain it to me while standing on one foot?"  And Rabbi Hillel said "Sure!"  Then he stood on one foot and said "What is hateful to you do not do to others.  The rest is commentary, go study."




Friday, May 11, 2012

Build Me Up Buttercup

The Foundations can serenade you today



After mentioning (I won't say complain) that the movie missed all the dramatic set-ups in my Renie Lake book, I'm perched on the brink of taking out an entire chapter that once was crucial to the dramatic arc.  What's my rationale?  It was cheesy storytelling.  It was easy and predictable and obviously worked.

The lesson to be learned is that you can never go far wrong with cheesy storytelling if it's done well.  Apparently I'm unable to learn from myself!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Pic du Jour

Because I am still working on Unheard and it's turning into rewriting the whole thing.  Never doing it again.  People say "I wish Morgenroth would turn her other horse book into digital format."  Yeah, ain't gonna happen.
What are the 2 books I'm forgetting??  No, I shouldn't think about it.  Okay, I had to look and be reminded.  Yeah I'm definitely not revisiting those.


So there's a  new Nikon out and it costs about $4000.  I'm sure it's great.  Do people make money as photographers now?  With newspapers and magazines going out of business, it doesn't seem like the same vibrant arena that it was when I was a photography major.  I'm sure some people do, but like anything there are so many people doing everything.

Seth Godin has a blog post about finding a niche and filling it.  I agree.  The problem I stated last week I think it was is that I'm sure the slices can be cut real thin and I'm sure even a small audience can be substantial but how do they find you?  That's why we need the e-harmonybook edition.

Sorry.  Back to the new wonderful Nikon.  Is it more wonderful than my D7k?  Is it $3000 more wonderful?
Again I'll say to Nikon--just give me a great camera with the least number of bells and whistles that will produce images that will make people keel over they're so fantastic.  $1500 tops.  I don't need video.  And it's in the D7k.  I love that camera.  But a great part of what makes a photo fantastic is what the photographer brings to it, not what the tool brings to it.  It's about vision.  It's about telling a story in a meaningful way that touches the audience.  16 megapixels, 36 megapixels.  At some point unless you're shooting for a billboard, it's overkill.

Photographers, or writers, need to have their very personalized vision and that's what you're selling.


Monday, May 7, 2012

No Wind Is Favorable

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

We're in a transition period.  Hold your course.  Don't listen to the handwringers.  Some people have no control over their emotions and love to drag everyone else into their dramas.  Know where you're going and keep going there.

 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Expect To Be The Rule

Not the exception--Miss Snark.  Some agent woman.

That's good advice.

Screw Robert Browning with his  "Man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"  Stupid!

The new definition of success--Let's just all aim at being mediocre.

Somehow so understandable coming from an agent.

Friday, May 4, 2012

By Force of Will

I gave Blue Raja a new title and a facelift.


So now maybe I can go back to Unheard and finish that.  You can see how easily distracted I am.  Quite pathetic actually.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Unheard

As if I didn't have enough to do.  I was really convinced I could just reformat the Renie Lake thing and publish it but when you proofread you have to read it.  I knew I didn't want to do that.  But I did so now I'm in the middle of a huge unintended rewrite.  And a retitle.

Why am I rewriting it?  Because uh...I actually don't remember writing this book--it's a long time ago--and I don't know what I was thinking.  I can understand why it got the attention it did then, but whatever the point of it was then is not where I am now.  I'm not convinced I should have revisited it to be superhonest (as Renie would have said).


The camera bag arrived and it's pretty darn wonderful.  I measured the camera and she had the dimensions listed but you know as well as I do all that's about numbers so I had no clue if it would fit, I expected it to be smaller than it is.  That D7k is not a point and shoot although I don't feel it's that big, I'm not familiar with Canon Rebels which she used to measure.  It arrived and there's plenty of room in there.  Here's my old Nikon, the 85 mm and the 55-200 zoom.  The spaces for the lenses can push back flat against the rear of the bag so you could actually stick a tablet (or lunch) in there if you had to.  I think just about any camera with a reasonable length lens would fit.  If you have a 300 mm telephoto then probably not


It's handmade of upholstery fabric and well padded.  It's not for real traveling but more of a day-trip kind of thing and it's exactly what I needed.  There are many different fabrics to choose from--I got the 1 on sale.  She's got bags/cases for iPads and such, too.  Janine King Designs.

Every day it seems, some article pops up where the elites wail about the revolt of the masses.  Yesterday some jerk called Amazon the Great Satan (which is a term Iran uses for America).  Amazon is not a terrorist organization, Jeff Bezos is not evil unless of course you're a socialist and you think capitalism is a bad thing, and they don't want to wipe America off the map but this was said with all the dumb conviction this person could muster.  All this makes me have less regard for their intelligence.  And they think they're the elites and we're the proles.  Delusional.