There's another blog over on the
fiction page all about what I'm reading. Check it
How did it get to be March?
I've been working on the next Dianna Dann book,
tentatively called The Long Walk Home. It's much harder going than
Camelia was. Camelia was written almost like a stream of
consciousness--the wacky, crazy story just rolled off my fingertips. The
Long Walk Home...not so much. But I'm 25,000 words in. (I cringe a bit
writing that. I need to write harder.)
The first draft of The Story Runner is
complete. I know exactly what's wrong with it and how to fix it, but it'll
have to wait its turn.
And I'm very excited about a new project! I
won't give too much away now, but let's just say it involves cats! Yay!
Stay tuned. Something new will be published at
some point. <tapping foot>
Hubs and I went up to Amelia Island, for the
Amelia Island Book Festival.
It was a lot of fun. They have quite a turn out, both of authors and
readers. I sold a few books and had a great time.
David Baldacci was there somewhere,
but I didn't get to see him.
Next weekend, we're headed to Fort Myers to
check out the Southwest Florida Reading
Festival there. No table for us; just a look-see. And in April, we have
a Wayward Cat Publishing
booth at the UCF Book
Festival in Orlando. I'm excited about that!
I was skimming through my "life" notebook (I keep most of my life in 6x9
ring binders) and came across a page I'd headed: Working Stories. It's so
old I don't even recognize some of the items on the list! I hope I have
notes somewhere else. But one item stuck out. It reads: Therapy--needs
I remember Therapy. It was a story about
a young woman with a crazy family and a dark secret. And I suppose the main
thrust of the story would be her visits with her therapist. I knew the sort
of personality this young woman had--sarcastic, a bit rude, unhappy--and she
hated to be touched. But she was all of those things only in her head. To
other people, she would do and say what was expected.
I was still struggling with the story (what was
it really about, anyway?) when I was talking with an online acquaintance
about something that happened during my childhood that affected me in a very
negative way. And while I was telling her about Camelia, it all just fell
into place. That was it! That's what Therapy was about. And two years
later, I published
It's weird looking back on it now. It gave me a
bit of a shiver when I saw the item in my notebook. It's amazing how
inklings can turn into characters who turn into ideas that end up being
stories that are published into books.
In many ways, because of its connection to my
own life, I think Camelia is my life's ambition. Everything else I
plan to write seems somehow like the falling action toward denouement.
I was in the paper yesterday. I spent last weekend at the
Authors for Authors
Book Fair event in Melbourne. It was a lot of fun. I sat next to
Darryl Gentry, who wrote
Let the Good Times Roll, a history of the early days of Rock n Roll.
And next to him was S.N.
Bronstein selling his
Private Eye Cats books like mad. At one point,
Marshall Frank came over and the
three of them talked for a long while, in their Nawthen accents,
about their days both up north, and in Miami, where apparently all
Nawthen people go for a while before they end up in Brevard County. It
was a riot.
It's been a struggle to get past the whole
Camelia thing. Instead of thinking about new projects (or those
already begun and in need of finishing), all I could think about was
Camelia. It was very strange. But I'm ready to move past it, finally.
My brain has started in on the daydreaming about the next
Kell Stone Prophecy
book, and The Story Runner.
I've also started thinking about the next
Dianna Dann book! Very exciting. But so much work ahead of me!
I am extremely honored and humbled by my first review at Amazon! Not only
did this reader enjoy
Camelia, but I think she got what I was trying to say with it and
that's so wonderful I can't really express it adequately.
Next weekend, I'm off to the
Florida Writers Association
conference. I had a great time last year and am getting excited now about my
trip. Next up will be the
Meet the Authors Book
Fair in association with the Eau Gallie Arts Festival here in Central
Florida. Two days of hobnobbing with other writers and readers!
Camelia is officially launched!
When I read Camelia,
I think it's one of the greatest book ever written. And then, when I put it
down, I think I'm a complete fraud and it's incredibly stupid, vapid, and
poorly written. I hope it's somewhere in between those two! I've heard that
other authors experience these bouts of delusion (we only hope the latter
thoughts are delusion!). So, I suppose I should be glad to be normal, at
least in that.
I'm currently awaiting the final proof before
publication. Then I must get back to The Story Runner. If I could get
it finished by the end of the year, it would be perfect! So that's my goal.
I've never been an excessively disciplined
person. And yet, while I may have paid lip service to the idea, I also never
really believed that I had to wait for the creative muse to strike before I
could write. Today, I read a brief article on creativity:
Creativity Is Really Just Persistence, And Science Can Prove It. I know
it's true, but it doesn't make it any easier to get myself into the office
and get to work.
I'm finding that I'm obsessed with the current
project and I can't get myself to start again on the next until I'm done,
completely finished, with the first one. I've got to get over that. I've got
to learn to let go of the current project as soon as it goes to formatting
and move on with writing time on the next.
Wish me luck!
Well, I did it. I finalized
was a snap! Just waiting for my Library of Congress number and I'll start
the process of trying to get Create
Space to make it right. (Yes, I know the fault is always on my end, but
I like to blame CS, anyway.)
Next up is the
Writers Association conference in Lake Mary! I really enjoyed it last
year. My books will be in the bookstore and I even have a slot for a little
book signing. Don't you just love book signings? We poor authors sit there
and watch people walk past; they try to be polite and let us down easy. I
assure you, it's just as uncomfortable for the author! And trust me, you
don't have to buy my book; I won't cry.
I had to give up my work on The Story Runner and get back to
finalizing Camelia. I
just couldn't get the story out of my mind and knew I'd never get any other
real work done until I just finished it--as in published. I gave it another
read-through and then printed it out. It's always a different experience
reading your manuscript in print; and even more different when reading it in
book form. But just the act of printing it out gave me clues to where it
needs a nip and tuck. Three spots actually. These little things nag at you
until you fix them. So, before I even read it through again, I'll be taking
my red pen and marking it up.
I promise to get back to
The Project Runway
Diaries as soon as I can. Novels are my first priority (I know it's
Runway sacrilege.) I'm really enjoying watching the latest season on
I updated my fiction reads blog today, too. Check
out what I'm reading now.
I had a wonderful time at the
Florida Tech Creative Writing Institute.
I took a class on fiction and wrote a couple of flash fiction pieces in the
process. I'll publish them somewhere in the future and let you know. I sat
in on a lecture about poet
Laura Riding Jackson.
I was instantly a fan when I heard that she and her husband, Schuyler B.
Jackson, set out to rewrite the dictionary because she didn't believe in
synonyms. Each word has a distinct, individual meaning. The result was
Rational Meaning: A New Foundation for the Definition of Words.
Jackson and her husband moved to
near where I live--at some point, and lived in a
style house without electricity. She wrote letters to friends telling
them how happy she was there with her simple life. That's what the heat does
to you--makes you crazy.
I'm hard at work on
finished with the penultimate draft, after which it will go into
percolation. Later I'll attack it again and probably discover it wasn't the
penultimate draft after all, but that's the way of it.
I went mad recently and decided I had too many
blogs so I merged the Wayward Cat Publishing blog into my regular blog,
The Sunshine State. I
tend to whine about publishing anyway, so all those posts on writing will
fit right in with the sunshine-y tone of the older blog.
And yes, yes, yes--I am still working on
The Project Runway
Diaries blog. I just have to put it on hold sometimes for the fiction.
Fiction is life, you know, and
Oh, and last but not least, I added our
Adventures in Trash blog to this one.
Check it out...if you're into trash.
Next week I'm taking a class at the
Florida Tech Creative Writing Institute. I didn't attend last year and
am happy to be able to go again. The classes are very basic, really, but it
doesn't seem to matter where we are in our writing experience, there is
always something to be learned. The best parts of the event are the bonus
talks at lunch and late afternoon.
I finalized, I think, the cover for
Camelia, but I don't
think I'll be able to get it published before the end of the year. I was
hoping to have it for the
Florida Writers Association Conference in October and the
Meet the Authors
event in November. But I don't want to rush it. It's not an ordinary story.
Check out what I've been
I had a wonderful trip to Alabama for a bit of research for my novel
Camelia. I wrote a
blog post about it at the Wayward Cat Publishing blog
[now part of The Sunshine
Where death is held more sacred than life... I've been absorbed in
formatting and publishing the second book in The Kell Stone Prophecy
series, The Wretched, for the past two weeks and when I returned to
writing the first draft of Camelia, I was afraid I would be at a
But last night proved brilliant and unnerving.
One day's writing on Camelia and I was up all night with scenes
running through my head. Fearful that I'd forget them, I got up twice to
write out notes. Today I'm exhausted, but not tired enough yet to sleep
more. We'll just have to see how well I focus. And yet, I have to admit that
focus isn't exactly necessary for this particular book.
For me, Camelia is the closest thing I've
come to in my writing career that qualifies as a "life's work." It's truly
one of those projects during which I feel like I'm opening wounds and
exposing pain. It's cathartic to be able to do that through a character that
is very little like me.
It's tax time. The time during which I am constantly reminded about how
unorganized I am. There's nothing like digging through piles of un-filed
papers looking for a receipt. It's enough to make you want to clean!
Next weekend, we're off on a trip to Alabama to
visit a grave for research on my next novel: Camelia. I love a good
cemetery, but I fear this one won't be much to look at. In a way, that will
make it all the more endearing. I'll blog about it when I get back and give
you all the deadly details.
Yesterday I posted a humorous piece on the Wayward Cat Publishing blog:
The new dystopian bondage genre. Here is a brief excerpt:
Gabe Habash at
Publishers Weekly tells us that "[h]alf of the top 20
bestselling books of 2012 in print were either
Fifty Shades titles or
Hunger Games titles, and only one book not written by E.L.
James or Suzanne Collins...cracked the one-million-copies-sold mark
for the year..."
Nerds, please join me in a deep, unsexy, all-too-normal sigh.
Bondage and dystopia, dystopia and bondage. The people have
spoken. Itís time to strap on theĖuh...penĖand get to work.
Behold, the battle plan for 2013.
Step one: Get thyself to the nearest sex-toy-extravaganza warehouse
and buy up all the paraphernalia you can find. You canít expect to
write about bondage without getting tied up. My husband wonít mind
helping me out with this researchĖand no doubt you too can find
someone willing. How bad could it be? Bring on the feathered
handcuffs and cutesy leopard-print whips. Donít forget the
stilettos. And men, youíre not getting out of itĖyou have wear the
eight-inch heels, too.
Then...you know...bond. Or whatever it is they do.
Be masochisticĖis that like whining? ĎCause Iím good at that. And
then be sadistic. Thatís the nagging part. I think I could do this!
I first wrote this piece hoping to get a humor
column on a wonderful blog, but alas, I was passed over for someone, no
doubt, funnier. But I had a lot of fun writing it.
Today, on my various forms of social media, I
posted a link to an article about a brief spat between Philip Roth and
Elizabeth Gilbert on writing:
Is writing hell, or heaven? Philip Roth and Elizabeth Gilbert disagree,
while 20 writers tell all in 'Why We Write'
My first reaction to the idea was that writing is both. It truly can be
hell. It's hell to know you have a story in your head that insists on being
put to paper, but you sit and stare at the screen knowing that the first
thing you write (from that very first beginning--the one you know won't make
it to print--to merely the first thing in that writing session) is going to
be pure crap. And you resist writing crap. Naturally.
Then there's the staring because you just don't know what to write. You
don't know where to start, what to say, how to say it. You think maybe this
writing thing isn't for you. Maybe you're a fraud. People were going to find
out sooner or later; it's high time you realized it yourself.
And it's hell when you sit out in the family computer room blogging, or
scrolling down Facebook's endless drivel looking for some diversion, playing
Words with Friends, or a PopCap Mystery P.I. game, all the while knowing
full well the novel is calling you. You can hear it. It's saying, "Get your
fat bottom in here and write me." But you don't. And that's hell.
The day gets by you. Then a week. Sometimes more. That's hell. And it's a
hell we create. All by ourselves. Fully knowing we're creating it.
We know we're making our own hell, because we've experienced heaven.
We know that once we get in there, sit down, and just start writing, even
if it's crap, even if it's just some stupid thought that comes into our
heads--once we do it, we start making art. We make ourselves laugh, and cry,
and tingle with excitement. We're in heaven when we write, even when we
write crap, because we know that once the crap is on the screen, it can be
turned to molding clay, and that clay can be shaped into our hearts and our
desires and our art.
So, why do we continue to put ourselves through the hell of it? Maybe we
think, subconsciously, that we have to suffer for it. Or maybe...maybe the
heaven is soul-wrenching, as wonderful as it is. It's frightening. It leaves
us exposed and raw. We come away from heaven spent and satisfied, and
worried that we won't get it back.
Maybe the heaven and the hell are both the same. The heaven is hell and
the hell is heaven. And we just have to deal with it.
I hate philosophy.
Anyway, I've taken to planting candy in my work room as a lure. It
doesn't really work. I may have come to the conclusion that there should be
no lure. There should be no heaven, and no hell. There should only be my
job. And as a job, I would have to agree with Elizabeth Gilbert, it's
But, I don't have to pay the bills.
I'm going to the Cocoa Beach
Writers Conference this weekend. Looking forward to it. This week's
writing was a struggle. I know the conference will get me back into gear.
corresponding Wayward Cat Publishing blog about the weekend.
My main struggle is writing when I know I have to
do something shortly. I can understand not wanting to get started when I
have to do something in a half hour, maybe even an hour. But if it's 9:15
and I don't have to do something until 11:45, what's the problem? Why can't
I spend that time writing? It's a struggle for me and I'm just going to have
to force myself to get over it.
I'm eager to get back to
The Wretched and
finish it up. But I'm forcing myself to only take a few notes on the
thoughts that come to me and instead finish up
The Story Runner.
It's not easy to keep away from something I'm excited about and
unfortunately, that excitement seems to be lessening my attraction to the
new book! Maybe I should just give in, finish and publish The Wretched,
and then my subconscious will be relatively free to devote itself to The
But I have this idea that The Wretched
must rest! It must rest for a long time! Do I know if this is true? No! But
nonetheless, the book will be rested. Well rested.
I had such a wonderful time at the
Meet the Authors event. I
sold a few books and bought a few--and two authors gave me a copy of theirs.
The time went by rather quickly and for that I was glad, because it wasn't
as great as a garage sale where you can go inside and grab a bite to eat
whenever you want. My husband came along, though, so I had someone at my
table when I needed a break--and he brought me lunch!
My two favorite sales were an older lady and a
I was over at
John Ryan's table; he was telling me some of his history, when my
husband pulled me away. One of the organizers was looking for me--she said
there was a woman out in the lobby that wanted to meet me, so I followed her
out there. An attractive, gray-haired, well-dressed lady was sitting on a
bench outside, with a cane, and she had clipping of the
article that featured me and my books with her.
She'd come all that way just to get a copy of
each of my books for her grandsons! But she'd recently developed vertigo,
she said, and she just didn't think she could make it through the room to my
table. What an awesome lady! I felt so honored--and not unlike a celebrity.
But I suppose my most favorite sale was
the twin! Adorable teenaged twins were at my table while their father
hovered around. One was very interested in
Children of Path, while the other was not. The one looking at my
book told me her sister could read a book in just a few hours. This avid
reader then told me how she had read many series of books in a day, and the
entire Harry Potter series
in a week!
Anyway, the one looking at my book read the
front, then the back; she asked about the picture of the panther on the
cover, were there panthers in the story? Then she opened it up in the
middle and read, then went to the first page and started reading. Her sister
said, "What are you doing?" Impatient girl! Her twin said, "I'm reading this
book!" Like, duh. Then the reader abruptly put the book down and went
to her father and said, "I want that book."
She told her dad she had money for it at home
and would pay him back. He made her promise. Then he made both girls say
pretty please. And while getting out his money, he made them both call him
"most awesome dad." And they did!
I loved this sale because I felt like my book
was connecting with that young woman--in the way it connects with me. It was
a wonderful feeling and I hope the book doesn't disappoint her.
At the book fair, I purchased
Finn Flanagan and the Fledglings by
This is a series book about a boy who dies, becomes an angel, then joins a
league of young angels to save the world. At least that's what Taylor's rep
told me. The cover picture is cool (I met the illustrator there and she
signed the book for me) and I found the story idea intriguing.
I also purchased The
of Max by Lou Belcher. I'd
heard about Lou's book subtitled "a memoir of great wisdom and many naps"
and about her late cat Max some time ago and was glad to finally be able to
get a copy.
Across from my table was Charles Nothe with his
Proscriptii, historical fiction set in ancient Rome. I really wanted
the book because I like really big books. But I knew that wasn't a good
reason to spend $20 on a book and, after all, my husband was with me to
remind me to be more frugal.
Unfortunately, when I went to speak with Nothe,
I told him my dilemma and his response was to give me a copy of the book.
Part of me understands why he did it. It was clear in talking with him that
he and I were both passionate about history and historical fiction--he much
more so than I because he actually researched and wrote, whereas I have only
read and enjoyed, the subject (except for that little BA degree, of course).
But, like with that young twin, when you find someone who clearly wants to
read your book--you want them to read it!
Well, my husband refused the offer and insisted
I pay, an idea I had no qualms with. But when I tried to give Nothe money he
absolutely refused. So we decided upon an exchange. I gave him a copy of
Zombie Revolution for a son or nephew, I can't exactly recall. I
really don't think it was a fair exchange and depending on who you ask (me
or hubs) one of us got the better deal. (Hubs isn't all that fond of heavy
tomes of history.)
In fact, hubs later looked at me with a smile
and said, I read the first sentence and almost put the book down, but it was
okay after that. And he had me read the first sentence of
Proscriptii. It was a long, complicated, glorious sentence and I
told him, "I'm going to love this book!" We shared a good laugh at our
I shared a table with Stanton Bronstein who
writes under the name S.N.
Bronstein. He turned out to be a fabulous table mate! Great sense of
humor, great attitude--I think he and I and hubs all shared a basic outlook
or worldview. I mean, imagine us sharing a table with
Debra John who
apparently brought along a psychic! (Don't get me wrong, Debra was a
lovely person...but if you know me...you know what I mean.)
Stanton was much more of a pitchman than I could
ever be. People were first drawn to his table by the covers of his
series--photos of places in Miami. He only had to give them his spiel
and then turn to the children's book at the end of the table with its
picture of a way-cool black cat and they were sold--if not on the adult
series, then definitely on the kids book. He outsold me by a large margin.
And I am now intimately familiar with his books;
if he had left for a while, by Sunday, I could have given shoppers the
entire spiel in his stead.
When he was packing up, Stanton gave me a copy
of the kids book,
Private Eye Cats Book One: The Case of the Neighborhood Burglars. I
was grateful. I didn't insist on paying Stanton, mostly because I hadn't
slobbered all over the book practically asking for it. He shouldn't have
given it to me though. But I'll definitely enjoy the read so I'm really
Next weekend, November 17 & 18, is the
Meet the Authors
event at the Eau Gallie Arts
Festival! Two days from 10 'til 4. Forty local authors, including yours
truly. Come visit. Come purchase books for Christmas, or for yourself.
This is my first year attending and I'm very
excited about it. I'll have copies of
Children of Path by
Zombie Revolution by D.D. Charles for sale.
I attended the Florida
Writers Association conference this past weekend and had a wonderful
However, it's clear that there still remains a
bias against self-publishing. I attended one workshop in which the presenter
said that one of the "pros" of being traditionally published is a guarantee
of quality. I called bull crap. Not out loud, of course.
Don't get me wrong. I perused the bookstore at
the conference and found self-published books that were below my standards.
One woman had misspelled "its" on the first page. The first page! I
understand there will be errors in a 90,000-word book. But the first page?
I picked up a little card advertising one
woman's book and in the description, she spelled "but" as "butt." Seriously?
I don't care how much I paid for those cards, I would have tossed them in
the trash. No excuse.
But then I purchased a traditionally-published
children's book and in its forty-five pages found no fewer than ten errors, along with a few questionable
Let me be clear: There is absolutely no excuse--none
whatsoever--to have typos, misspellings, or consistency errors in a
short picture book. No excuse. Yes, it is excusable in very long works. But
in a forty-five page book? No. Sorry.
Being traditionally published is no guarantee
of quality. At all. Don't even go there with me.
Yes, you can find horrible books by
self-published authors. But you will also find quality books at, or
exceeding, the standards of traditional publishers.
Now that that uncomfortable nonsense is out of
the way, I'd like to give a thankful shout out to
Janice Decker. Janice was at the
conference and sat in on a panel discussion on self-publishing. Strangely
enough, most of the others on the panel were actually publishers. Not
publishers like myself who only publish their own works, but publishers who
help authors "self-publish." I know; it's confusing. But this is what the
new world of publishing has wrought.
Janice was not a publisher. She self-published
her book Take
Before the discussion began, I conversed a bit
with the guy sitting next to me and somehow our conversation wound around to
him telling me how he hired a professional editor for all of his books. I'm
beginning to see what's happening here. Self-publishers are ashamed of
themselves. They still consider themselves the step-children of the writing
world. So, they have to prove themselves whenever they talk about their
books. Having someone professionally edit their books is like saying, "My
books may be self-published, but they're good. Honest."
He had to go through several edits, he said, to
weed out all the mistakes. And his editor helped him to see where his
writing was weak and where the story needed improvement. And I'm sitting
there thinking, "That's your job, dude! If you have to hire someone to
figure all that out, you're not doing your job."
But instead, I fell into the same trap and
explained that I self edit because I'm a control freak, so I'm good at it.
And while I would think that being a grammar control freak would make
someone a good editor, I should have just told him what I really thought.
Editing, and knowing how to write a well-structured, well-paced story is
your job as the author. The more you write, the better you should get at it.
If you have to hire in help, or send your book through the round of critique
groups, agents, and editors, you are not the author of your book. It's a
So, naturally, during the panel discussion, this
very topic was brought up and kudos to Janice Decker who did not hesitate or
falter. To the question: Do you really need to hire a professional editor?
She said, "No." Editing is part of the writing process, she said. It's part
of the craft of writing. Learn it.
I was so happy to hear someone else say it, I
was giddy. And I missed the comment that
Eugene Orlando made. When I
finally came down from my cloud he was saying something about teaching his
writers reverse editing and how well it worked. So, he might have been in
agreement with Decker and I as well.
But the others, especially one woman who offered
us a patronizing smile and shake of her head, continued on with the myth
that writers are not capable of producing quality work without the help of
other people. Bull crap.
The article about me, and
Wayward Cat Publishing, and my books is in
The Hometown News
today! It's called, "Bringing fantasy to life: Palm Bay author publishes two
books, with more on the way."
Brittany Llorente did a wonderful job. In the print edition, they printed
the covers of both my current books; only one is online. I sound a tad odd
and I can't remember saying things exactly the way I'm quoted. But it's so
hard to remember what you said, and when you're talking, you feel like
you're babbling. Being interviewed is definitely something to get used to.
This morning I was up early because there was an
estate sale down the street. My neighbor died a while ago and left a few
cats. I took care of them for a while until they could be placed in foster
homes. Though I didn't know my neighbor, I could tell she was a very cool
lady--her home was filled with cat stuff. Her sister gave me a lovely gift
of a small cat statue for helping out.
I knew they were planning a sale and was excited
to go over today and find more cat treasures. I got a lot! A white ceramic
cat that sits atop a shelf with his head looking over the edge. Another
larger white ceramic long-hair that sits on the floor. A fabulous heavy
statue of a leopard lounging on a branch. Cat Christmas tree ornaments;
little cat figures for my shelves; a cat teapot; cat salt and pepper shakers
(my second set!). And I found a long, narrow plate of fired clay with
pictures of cats on it. Its "handles" on either end look like kitty paws
grasping it from behind. Love that! I have no idea where to put it so the
cats won't break it; but I love it.
It was rather awful to feel the want of things
that belonged to my neighbor. I felt greedy for going over early and buying
up all the best things. I thought I should leave some for others. But of
course, the people handling the estate don't care if one person buys it all.
And not everyone is out for cat treasures.
I may be at my limit now. Although, there's a
bare spot on my desk that just cries out for some sort of cat. The live ones
generally prefer the spot just in front of the screen...
Things are changing right and left around here. I started a blog over at
Wayward Cat Publishing,
but I've decided to delete it from the website. [After this post, I think I
reinstated the blog for a while, and then finally merged it with
The Sunshine State.]I have too many blogs, and I
don't think a publisher needs a blog. So, I am incorporating my few posts
into this blog. Here they are:
Why buy the cow...
Maybe your mom was right after all...
Last Friday I had a phone interview with
Brittany Llorente, staff writer for
The Hometown News. When she contacted me for the interview I was
excited, but nervous. I'm a writer after all, not a speaker. I was worried
that I would babble and ramble and say very stupid things. (The article
hasn't appeared in the paper yet, so I'm still worried.)
It's said that writers these days have to market
themselves. I fear that I'm not going to be very good at it. Not only am I
rather shy and reserved, but I am loathe to push my work on others. Do I
want you to read my books, sure I do. But only if you want to. Somehow, I
don't think this is the proper attitude for marketing.
Once I went to hear Richard Lederer
speak. Before the speech (not after, strangely enough) he was at a table
hawking his books. He was so personable and funny, I ended up buying an
armful without thinking. He was a salesman, I realized. And he was selling
what he loved: his thoughts on the fascinating subject of language. One of
the things he said in his speech (I can't remember when or where this was,
but I remember this one thing from his speech) was that you should give away
some of what you're selling. And he certainly did that. His speech was like
his books. And he left us wanting more, so we bought more books.
Some time later, probably in 2003 after my non-fiction book,
Like Rolling Uphill, was published, I sat in on a book signing with
other local authors at the Space Coast
Writers Guild conference. I was put next to a woman who wrote a book on
marketing. She gave me some good advice. And what did I do? Well, I bought
her book, of course. I didn't find any more advice in the book that
pertained to me at the time than what she'd already given me, but it didn't
matter...I'd already bought the book.
I wonder if this advice is what has fiction writers giving away their books.
There are authors who swear their readership goes up when they give their
book away. But what actually goes up is the downloads. It's hard to know who
is downloading the book simply because it's free and who will actually read
it afterwards. And there is some debate about whether or not giving away
books actually results in increased sales later.
It's not hard to find blogs extolling the benefits of giving your work away.
Harder to find are people willing to say,
hold on there a minute. But they're out there if you look hard enough.
I'm not interested in giving my books away. I see my books as my work, and
writers ought to be, and should have no shame in getting, paid for their
work. I believe my work has value. If I treat it as if it doesn't have
value, others won't value it.
I don't think that giving your books away is at all what Lederer meant by
his advice anyway. After all, none of his books were free. What he gave away
was information, passion, part of himself and his enthusiasm for his
For some of us, even that can be a challenge.
Nice work if you can get it...
Tom Rizzo, author of
Last Stand at Bitter Creek, posted a bit of
Ray Bradbury over at
Linkedin the other day.
"Writing is not a serious business. Itís a joy and a celebration ... If itís
work, stop and do something else."
My first reaction was to choke on my Diet Coke. My second was to clatter off
a quick response: That's like telling a group of older women that you never
had hot flashes while going through menopause.
I know, because I've done something quite like that. I went to see
Menopause The Musical last
weekend with my mother, my sisters-in-law, and their mothers. And I
innocently explained that I am not suffering, for which I was leered at
menacingly. I was no longer one of them--I was...suspicious.
Anyway, writing can be work. Often. It can be hard work.
Bradbury himself said, "I know you've heard it a thousand times before.
But it's true - hard work pays off. If you want to be good, you have to
practice, practice, practice. If you don't love something, then don't do
Of course he explains that said hard work has to be engaged in what you love
doing. I can agree with that.
Writing is, and frankly ought to be, work. Most of the time, that work is
joyful, for me. Sometimes it's positively dreary, and sure, it's best at
those times to switch to another project or get up and take a walk. But
there are times in our creative process that slog. God, they slog.
The only saving action, for me, is to read what I've already got. Then I see
that it's a jewel, maybe rough, but it's got so much potential. Heck, there
are even sentences...or paragraphs!...that sing. This thing's going to be
great. If I could just get through this scene. What the heck am I going to
do with this scene?
So, after muttering curses about men and how they all too often bliss their
way through life not recognizing how hard it really is, probably because
they've got some woman
making their damn sandwiches for them, I decided to check out this Ray
Bradbury quote. Surely Mr. Bradbury isn't really saying that writing is
pure, unadulterated joy (unadulterated by hard work).
And you'll notice in Tom's quote, there is an ellipsis. Damn those ellipses.
You've got to really watch out for those little buggers.
Here's the actual quote:
"I want your loves to be multiple. I donít want you to be a snob about
anything. Anything you love, you do it. Itís got to be with a great sense of
fun. Writing is not a serious business. Itís a joy and a celebration. You
should be having fun with it. Ignore the authors who say ĎOh, my God, what
word? Oh, Jesus ChristÖ,í you know. Now, to hell with that. Itís not work.
If itís work, stop and do something else."
And this, I can agree with. Do the things (plural) that you love doing. But
if you're constantly carping over the smallest element of that activity (I'd
call it work, because it is actually work--creative, rewarding, joyful work,
yes. But work.), then don't do it.
If you labor over every verb, frustrated that you can't get it right, are
you having any fun at all? Just write the damn thing. If you're rewriting
the heck out of your manuscript, you're writing your own voice out of it.
And that means you're writing all the passion and individuality out of it.
Just write it. Then read it and listen for its song. It has one. It has to
But if you don't like the song you're singing, maybe you should go do
Today, I read the "Top
10 Self-Sabotaging Mistakes of Author-Bloggers" by Anne R. Allen, whose
blog is, not coincidentally, called Anne R. Allen's Blog. You can catch all
ten at her blog, but here is the one that got me started today. (Thank you
Anne, for the inspiration!)
Number Four: Having too many blogs. (She also said that it wasn't necessary
for an author to have a blog and a website, because the blog is perfectly
useful in itself.)
I have three websites.
Atheist View was first, because I
realized I was an atheist about twenty years ago and freaked out. I'm still
pretty freaked out, so I keep that website going--it keeps me sane--with its
blog doing double time there and at Blogger.
I also have an author website, Dianna Dann/Narciso (the one you're reading
now) because there is so much more to me than atheism. Fiction, for one
thing. And for a long time, Dianna Dann was my only pen name.
Then, this year, I created my own publishing company and the
Wayward Cat Publishing
website was born. The blog there is also mirrored at Blogger. (Not anymore.
Now it's this blog! Confused yet?)
Anne says it's not necessary to have a blog and a website. Well, it is for
me. It's just the way I do things. Is it bad? Maybe. Maybe I'll confuse
people. Maybe that's a good thing. I don't know. But Anne does make the very
good point that I should have my sites linked back and forth and every which
way. And my books should be present at all three sites.
But but the biggest problem I have with Anne's list is, of course, that she
said I shouldn't have more than one blog. Oh, dear. That's a problem. But
maybe she means more than one author blog. That would be silly, wouldn't it?
Unless you have a pen name that you'd like to separate from your other
names. Anne says Blogger has something called "pages" that you can use for
your pen names. I don't know what these "pages" are...maybe I'll look into
it, if I have time in between all this blogging/writing/websiteupdating.
I blog Project Runway in
The Project Runway Diaries. It's a blog unto itself for a reason.
It's...like a calling. It's a life-long project that I work on when I can.
It's my gift to the world. Snark. It deserves its own blog.
And I blog as a grammar Nazi with
Poultry Apologies and Foot
Holes. I'm just not sure that I want grammar Nazi involved too
intimately with my websites or other blogs, but we'll see if we can stand a
little more linkage.
That right there is four blogs, including Wayward Cat Publishing and Atheist
View with their websites. But I have more! I also just blog life at
The Sunshine State. I
might be able to combine that with Wayward Cat Publishing...but it's The
Sunshine State. I like it. It has its own personality. Merging would be like
(The other blogs mentioned previously have been discontinued.)
Sure, nobody's reading them! But they're mine. My babies. And yes, maybe
I'll stop one or two. And maybe they take up too much time. Maybe they keep
me from doing the real writing. Maybe.
But I'm a big fan of doing what you love as often as possible. As long as it
works for you. Enjoy.
(However, I'm totally with Anne on the black background with white lettering
thing. Please stop doing that.)
Wayward Cat Publishing
has put its books up on BookDaily.com.
If you love to read, you can sign up for emails from BookDaily and they will
send samples of books to your inbox with an option to purchase. You can also
browse samples right at the website. Authors can have samples of their books
sent out to Book Daily's thousands of subscribers for $49 a month. We're
thinking about it here...thinking. Would it be worth it?
I have to admit, the main thing that makes me hesitate is that you don't
just sign up for one month at a time. You sign up, and when you want to stop
the service, you have to do so "in writing." I hate that "in writing"
proviso wherever I find it. If I can't just log on and click "stop," I don't
really want to get involved. But maybe... For now, though, the books are
Here are the links for
Children of Path.
Another resource I'm using is GoodReads.
But to have your book in the general population of books, it has to be
listed by a librarian. Still, authors can put samples of their work on the
site; people can read them and "like" them. I can't say if it's worth it at
this point or not.
Today I donated one copy of each of my books to Palm Bay High School.
They're having a book drive right now for the teachers' classrooms. If any
of my fellow local authors are interested, and have age-appropriate books,
just drop them off at the front office.
I'm getting ready to attend the
Florida Writers Association conference, "The Magic of the Pen." October
19-21 in Orlando. Our books,
Children of Path and
Zombie Revolution, will be for sale in the conference bookstore.
I love attending writers conferences. There is always inspiration to be had,
even in attending the most basic workshops.
It's true, however, that not all workshops are valuable. When you attend a
conference regularly, you learn which speakers will not actually address the
topic and instead spend your time pitching their books to you. So
far, I've only met one speaker who does that. Knowing better, I sat in on
her workshop this past year at the Space
Coast Writers' Guild conference. We were supposed to hear all about
finding our niche. But instead, we heard about how she found her niche and
details about all the books she published in that niche. Never again.
If you are unfamiliar with the speakers at a conference, try not to worry.
There's nothing you can do but choose and hope for the best. If you find
yourself hearing nothing but advertisement of the author's books, feel free
to get up and walk out. That's right. Just get up and leave. No one will
care. They'll think you have an agent appointment.
But at conferences, the good will far outweigh those awkward moments. There
are authors who can tell their stories and inspire you to go home and write!
And there are many, perhaps most at conferences, who are there to help you
on your journey--no matter where you are on the road.
Agent and editor appointments (if you're into that sort of thing) can be
purchased for a modest sum and the secret is that they always ask you to
send them your manuscript. You paid for it, after all. It's no guarantee,
but it's a great shot. Don't be nervous. Just memorize your pitch and relay
it professionally and with enthusiasm. Don't stutter, don't giggle, don't
say stupid things, don't go off on tangents, don't ask the agent/editor if
they know what you're talking about. Oh, they'll still ask for your baby,
but you'll feel very silly for the rest of the conference--and maybe days
later. (These are things I tell you from experience.)
Take notes, or don't take notes. I used to take notes madly--and then come
home and tuck them away somewhere never to be seen again. Now I only jot
down the inspirations I get for stories and blogs. Then I tuck those away
somewhere and never look at them again. Whichever works for you.
A lot of people (okay, well, a majority of the people) will tell you that
networking is the greatest thing about conferences. Apparently, writers
should get to know other writers and rub elbows with agents and editors.
That's all good and well, if that's your style. It's not mine. I'm the
wallflower sort. Always was. Only alcohol can tear me away from my seat in
the corner, and pretty things do not happen after that. I don't drink
alcohol much anymore. It makes me sick, anyway. No loss, let me tell you
(trust me on this one).
Sure, I talk to some people when I can. I do my best. But I'm just not very
good at "marketing" myself. And I'm rather leery of people who are quick to
tell you all about their books and shove a business card at you. I get it. I
just get icky all over when it happens.
My point is this (okay, maybe there are two points, but the first one is
this): If you are shy, or not the talkative type, and don't feel comfortable
trying to be sociable, don't worry about it! You are a writer! Not a
socialite. It's not necessary. You will take away so much inspiration from
the conference that it will be worth it. And, if you paid for your minutes
with your agent/editor, you get to put your book in front of them. It's all
And, I guess the other point is, if you spend the whole conference pitching
your book to everyone within earshot, you might miss a lot. That's all I'm
If you're in the Orlando area, drop by the
FWA website and sign up! This
will be my first year with FWA and I'm very excited. The SCWG will host
their conference again early in 2013. No details up yet, but I'm looking
forward to that as well.
On another note, I'm having a bit of fun with this royal "we." We at
Wayward Cat Publishing.
We do that. We did that. Sometimes it is a "we;" and certainly there are
several author names here. But mostly it's just me, feeling full and
satisfied, like I've given birth to a baby and I must speak of us as one.
We'll get over it at some point, I'm sure.
Wayward Cat Publishing is
up and running. The following is a brief and exciting history of this
I've been a writer since middle school when I wrote my first book. I have no
recollection of it; no doubt it was awful. In high school I wrote short
stories (had one published in Impetus, the high school journal of
poetry and prose) and another novel.
This second novel, I remember. The main character was Sherland. Yes, I made
her a country. She had long, straight, shiny, black hair (the opposite of my
wavy, often frizzy, blonde). Sherland was stunningly beautiful (also
opposite of the author). After her mother's death, she moved to the east
coast to live with her father (who had gray eyes...uh huh, that's right),
her step-sister, -brother, and -mother. She promptly tried out for the
cheerleading squad and made it, naturally, to the fury of her step-sister,
whose spot she'd taken.
Lots of conflict at the get-go.
The love interest was Greg. He was obviously also the love interest of the
step-sister. I wish I could remember her name; it was probably a name I
didn't like. Sherland, who was sweet and kind, (opposite the author?), took
on an unpopular girl, made her over, and she became popular. Then she turned
on our lovely Sherland and joined forces with the evil step-sister.
In the end, Greg was crossing the street to tell Sherland how much he loved
her, and as Sherland watched from an upstairs window at the house, the
step-sister, upset about another awful thing our heroine had done to her,
ran him down with the car. It was raining, though. And she was crying. So,
it was an accident. Really. At the hospital, the last person Greg wanted to
see before he died was Sherland. Not his parents. It's a YA novel.
And with his last dying breath....I can't remember what he said.
Let's not forget the father with the gray eyes. Sherland and he had been at
odds since she moved in. It must have been difficult trying to fit in with
your dad's new family and I can't imagine I explored that aspect very much,
being immature and never having experienced such a thing. But at least I had
the good sense to put the father and daughter at odds. At some point, either
after Greg's demise or shortly before, the man fell down the stairs. And
when our Sherland realized how much she loved her father, his gray eyes
turned to blue.
O-M-G. Could I tell a story or what?
Then I discovered alcohol.
Cut to the time when I'm, like, 50. I've published a non-fiction book with
Llumina press on rationalism and
atheism. I've continued to dabble in fiction, and even written a couple of
books. Over the course of 30-some odd years of writing, we can only assume
it has improved. My books and short stories found a tad bit of interest from
the powers that be--good rejections, but no takers. And then it dawned on me
(probably after reading Dean
Wesley Smith's blog) that I didn't need a publisher anymore...not even
Wayward Cat Publishing
was born. My husband, George, is in charge of art. He drew the logo, and
helps with some book cover art. He is also the computer expert and helps
with formatting problems that plague me.
Now that two of my books (Children
of Path and
Zombie Revolution) are out and selling at Amazon, on Kindle, and other
electronic devices, I look back and realize that I've broken all the rules.
But I would highly recommend doing so to others. Sure, listen to what they
tell you. And take what sounds right for you. Leave the rest and stop
worrying about it. Here are some of the rules I was given:
1. Be a drunk.
Okay, not a rule, really. But seriously. When I was a teenager, this was the
vision of a writer in my head: A desk in a dark room lit by a dim lamp. An
ashtray filled with butts and one lit cigarette. A typewriter. (You remember
those, don't you?) And a bottle of some kind of booze. This is odd, really,
as my preference was for beer. You see, I was already breaking rules.
2. Polish those prose. Polish the hell out of them.
Or, in another words, strip them of your heart and soul.
3. Join a critique group.
Right. This isn't your book--it belongs in committee. Go over it line by
line, word by word, and let's all make it work.
4. You must, absolutely must, hire a copy-editor.
For me, hiring a copy-editor is a lot like taking my book to a critique
group. Why would I need someone else to do my job? Yes, it's difficult to
find errors and typos. But it's my job to write clean copy. It's part of
what writing is all about. If you can't do it, by all means, get someone to
do it for you. But if you can't edit, or rewrite, or, heck, come up with a
plot, who's going to do that?
5. Get an agent.
For the life of me I can't understand why writers hire someone who doesn't
write and doesn't publish to tell them how to rewrite their books and then
give them fifteen percent of their profits (forever) to put it in front of
an editor. Why do we do this?
6. Find a publisher.
Well, certainly when I started out in this game, there were only three
routes to take. 1. Traditional (or what they're calling legacy now)
publishing. 2. Vanity publishing. That's where you pay some people a lot of
money and they produce your book for you and it costs a ridiculous amount of
money. And 3. Self-publishing. Here you went to a printer and did the whole
thing yourself and then had boxes of books sent to your house.
Back in the day, the only good way to go was traditional. But that's just
not where it's at anymore. Is it? So, I didn't do that one either. I'm not
ruling it out. I'm not saying that I wouldn't take a good contract if one
presented itself to me. But, with traditional publishing you give up a lot.
Money, for one thing. Rights to your work. Control--control over the
manuscript, control over the title and the cover. We don't have to do that
anymore and I think the world is better for it.
So, I'm a rule-breaker. I'm a rebel. And like everything else in life,
practice makes perfect. We here at
Wayward Cat Publishing
are practicing the art of waywardness and the craft of writing what we
please, naming it what we want, creating our own covers, and offering it all
up to the world of readers.
Sure, copy-editing is hard. Formatting is hard. Covers are hard. Blurbs are
hard. Marketing is hard. But it's also thrilling!
Go wayward, my friends!
And that's the end of our integration. Back to
our regular blog--now filled no doubt with some redundancy.
I was interviewed this afternoon for a newspaper feature in
The Hometown News. Very scary
stuff, interviewing. My motto going in was simply, be yourself. What else
can one do? I've tried being other people, it never works.
I remember as a child, I didn't have a good
relationship with myself. I didn't think people liked me the way I was. I
can remember figuring out what I was going to "be like" before going to
family get-togethers where I would spend time with my cousins, whom I deemed
much prettier, more popular, and better all-round than me. I had to make
myself into someone different, someone better. It never, ever worked. I
always ended up being "stupid old me" (in my eyes, then).
The last time my high school reunion came
around...last summer?...someone started up a website for us and we
re-introduced ourselves. My first try was downright morose. I talked about
how awkward and depressed I was in school. Someone actually emailed me and
said, basically, "What are you talking about? I don't remember you that way
It doesn't matter, of course, how others see us.
It matters only how we see ourselves. If we see ourselves as personable,
confident, and funny, we'll come off that way.
Wait a minute. I just contradicted myself. In
high school I was a complete wreck, but few people knew it, apparently. Now,
I'm a confident, personable...oh, dear. Oh, dear, oh dear. Well, we'll just
have to wait until Friday to see how the interview went!
Well, the publishing has begun.
Children of Path: The Kell Stone Prophecy Book One is available in
paperback, on Kindle, and via other electronic devices through
the above goes for
Zombie Revolution, too! (Here's the
You know, I didn't really intend to publish
Zombie Revolution at all. And then, when I reread it and thought, "why
not," I only planned to release it as an ebook. But my mentor,
Dean Wesley Smith said that
would be stupid. (Not to me--he doesn't even know me--but on his blog.) So,
I was on again with the "why not" and there you have it. Zombies. Who knew?
But not only that...I have another idea for a
D.D. Charles book. So, I guess I'm a paranormal humor writer now.
I am concerned that I wear too many pen names.
Readers like to find more books by authors they like. But I am adamant
against publishing in different genres under the same name. So, I'm pushing
Wayward Cat Publishing as
much as I can.
Well, I have four books due out in 2013. So,
it's off to work. You may not hear from me again for a long time. If you do,
I'll be hearing your voice in my head saying, "get back to work!" And thank
you for that.
This past week I had the pleasure of attending the
Zumba Instructors Convention at the
Peabody Hotel and
Orange County Convention Center. While I
enjoyed the visit from the Rockettes,
the Daddy Yankee concert, the
fabulous Zumbathon for Party in Pink, and the march of the
the best part for me was the people watching.
So many people really need to look in the mirror
more often before they leave their hotel rooms. A style that can be rocked
out by someone in their twenties, is probably a bad idea for those of us in
our fifties. Just because
Beardsley does it, doesn't mean it looks good on the rest of us--in
other words, roll that pant leg back down for god's sake. Always cover your
midsection if it bulges out like a doughnut. And whatever you do, don't try
to squeeze your rolls into stretchy tops and pants that are clearly three
sizes too small for you.
I saw large people and scrawny people who knew
their age and knew how to rock out Zumba wear. And I saw large people and
scrawny people who didn't have a clue. It was quite a lot of fun.
The worst problem was watching people dance. As
I posted on facebook: they will let anyone become a Zumba instructor. If you
can't dance, no problem. If you can't hear the beat in music, come on in!
Zumba is like a culture that everyone wants to be a part of...and can be
a part of. And in many ways that's wonderful. But when you watch complete
body nerds try to rock out even something as simple as a salsa, it can be
And then, after seeing that, if you don't
question your own appearance trying a body roll, you clearly have too much
The keynote speaker for the event was
Kathy Najimy who has apparently
lost a bit of weight recently and credits her Zumba classes. She gave us a
funny, inspiring message of inclusiveness and confidence and perseverance.
She said that someone (I'm sure she named the person, but I can't recall who
it was) told her once that if you write a book and no one wants to publish
it, find a printer, start a publishing company. Do it yourself.
Naturally, I thought she was talking directly to
me. Kathy Najimy was speaking to me!
Wayward Cat Publishing is striving to put out my first book, The Kell
Stone Prophecy: Book One by the end of September. Shortly after that,
Zombie Revolution will debut.
I have a lot of work to do.
We lost our logo cat, JJ, this past May; it was tragic. I still think of him
when I pass various spots in the house, or when his litter mate requires
I've been fast and
furious with fiction lately and have been lax at blogging, but I'm holding
My first novel, The Kell Stone Prophecy Book
One, is coming soon from
Wayward Cat Publishing. Once that is put to print, I will have no choice
but to finish the series. It's always good to have a deadline looming. Isn't
As always, check out the
fiction page for more blog and my book list.
The highlight of the Space
Coast Writers' Conference this year was
The Nardini Sisters. They
presented two workshops on publishing with
CreateSpace and marketing on
They were engaging, funny, and very helpful. They wrote and self-published
The Underwear Dare. It's a fabulous book for kids--lots of vomit and
At dinner the evening after I sat
in on their presentations, one of them mentioned that boys eventually grow
out of their immature love of fart jokes and potty humor. I said, "No they
don't." My husband's favorite word is "duty," always interpreted by him as "doody."
So when I purchased their book from the author
store, I had one of them write "doody," and the other was kind enough to
draw a picture of a steaming pile. Wonderful people!
I have much work to do, and so very little time
to do it. I'm threatening myself with a time-clock. And I'm serious.
It's time, already, to sign up for the
Space Coast Writers' Conference!
This conference is always inspiring; I'm looking forward to it.
I've added links to two of my blogs.
The Sunshine State is
a blog I started to get myself writing first thing in the morning. Sometimes
I'm amazed at what comes to my mind. Bananas, for instance. I really was
concerned about the bananas. And poop. There's still time to write about
poop. Poultry apologies
and foot holes came to me after reading so many silly errors on the
Internet tubes. I finally had to speak out.
is just around the corner. For some time, I'd been thinking that I wouldn't
participate. The rule is that you start something new for NaNo. And I have
several projects in the works that I want to finish. I didn't think I wanted
to spend so much energy on something new.
But I have an idea for something new. And I'm
wondering if I force myself to do the NaNo, I might gain some discipline to
actually continue on the older projects at the same time. Then again, maybe
I'm out of my mind.
I've not had good luck with NaNo. I finished one
year, but I'm pretty sure I wrote 50,000+ words of utter crap. I'm not sure
the premise of NaNo works for me. On the other hand, I tend to lean too far
to the other side and "wait" for the inspiration, knowing full well all the
time that inspiration comes through writing.
Why am I such a complicated bird?
*Frontpage never lets me add a hyperlink to
NaNoWriMo directly. It won't give me the option in a right click, like it
will for other things. It keeps wanting me to add it to my dictionary, like
I've made up a word.
I think I neglect this page and spend all my time over on the
fiction page. But this is the home page, right? I
should be here more often.
I'm writing regularly again and it feels good.
I've immersed myself in the writing life--reading
The Writer and
Writer's Digest. I have all of
Writer's Market books up to date. I'm ready to write some short stories
again (already have one nearly complete) and work on my novels almost
daily--I'll get that up to daily very soon.
I feel like I have a ton of work to do and won't
ever finish it all. But I am glad I have work to do. There's never a blank
screen--never a moment when I wonder, what will I write. I just need to
write and write and write.
Again I'm suffering with motivation and discipline. I suppose I will have to
accept the lack of them as part of my core personality like my other
I created a schedule
for writing; it's a schedule for my life actually. The days of the week are
each divided into blocks of time during which I should do certain things:
fiction writing, blogging, articles, and Zumba. The thing I tend toward
most, other than
Frontierville, of course, is writing articles for
Examiner. It can eat up most of a day
going through news items looking for topics and then writing on them.
I wish I enjoyed all aspects of fiction writing
as much. But there are only certain times during a fiction project in which
the excitement motivates me onward without pause. Getting to those points is
dreadful! But I intend to force myself into it with my new calendar book.
It's hard cover. Oooh. And deep maroon. Inside,
the open book features a week across left and right pages. Saturday and
Sunday are scrunched up over on the far right. No problem! Monday through
Friday are divided by hours and below each is a spot for notes. Bitchy, get
your ass out of that chair and get into your office notes! I can hardly wait
to yell at myself!
How do you turn a capable, confident, well-spoken author into a blithering
idiot? Sit her down in front of an agent at a writer's conference. Oh-my-gawd!
Did I blabber like a fool? Did I chatter without a break for breathing? Did
I not turn around and ask, "Am I talking too loud?" And did I or did I not
ask the agent if she had to fly far to get home when I knew damn well she
worked in New York?
Some people need "slow down and breathe" buttons
to go along with their deserved "off" and "smile" buttons.
Well, now that another writer's conference is
over, I'm ready for a productive year. I'll be finishing the first book in
my second middle grade series. And I still need to finish that
one about the zc's. (Do you see how close to the vest I'm holding that idea?)
And I think I may have finally hit on an idea
for women's fiction that can hold up to my tediously exacting standards for
a complete novel! (Have I heard something like this in my head before?)
Well, it's NaNoWriMo day
number eight and I'm--let me get out my calculator--3588 words behind. So
today I only have to write 5255 words and I'll be fine.
After six months of heavy stress, things are settling back down here at the
Narciso household. I'm still homeschooling one child, now a high schooler.
But with a good schedule, I think I can work in most of the important
things. Darn, housework may just have to fall by the wayside...again. And
again and again. I'm learning how to embrace the filth. I never was much of
a cleaner. I was that little girl with crap shoved under her bed. Mom would
come in, in a rage, fall to her hands and knees and yank stuff out while
ranting about what a pig I was. Yes, crispy, stale, half-eaten peanut butter
sandwiches, toys, clothes, trash, shoes, papers, books, long lost lists and
trinkets. All under my bed.
there aren't enough beds here.
This year has flown past! I had to do a total reworking of the premise for
my latest book. Almost finished. Once I start the actual writing it should
be done in no time. In the mean time, I'm trying to (gasp!) clean my house.
I've taken on writing short articles a few times
a week for an online newspaper of sorts. I was hoping this work would break
my daily addiction to facebook and nonsensical games and bring me closer to
writing most of the day and it certainly worked. Nothing like writing to
keep one's focus on writing.
I passed the AFAA and I finished the really awful book and don't feel slimy
or anything. I'm still working on
marketing the two completed babies and outlining the third. I won't be able
to update the website again until late April, early May, so don't miss me too
I've been so curious about the title of that horrible, horrible book I
couldn't finish reading. I think the description I gave (about a perfectly
beautiful woman who had a perfect singing voice--and let me add, she was so
beautiful everyone turned to look at her every time she entered any room)
was for the book
Star, by Danielle Steel. I didn't finish reading that one,
But I was thinking of another book
and I can't remember anything about it now, except that it was awful.
It would have been in hardcover in about 1987. There, that's all I know. I
should go to the bookstore and amuse the clerks.
"I'm looking for a novel."
"Wonderful, what is the title?"
"I don't recall the title or the author. But it was a romance novel, except
I'm pretty sure it wasn't found in the romance section. It was hardcover in
1987. And it might have been white, with some purple on it."
LOL. Yes. People really do ask bookstore clerks
to find books for them when they know absolutely nothing about them.
Speaking of bookstore clerks, I have something
to get off my chest. It's been bugging me for over twenty years.
I used to manage a bookstore. One day, a woman
came in with a hardcover book that she'd received as a gift from a friend.
She didn't like it and wanted a refund or credit. She had no receipt. I
looked that book up from here to Sunday and could not find it. I was pretty
sure it was a remainder. It was one of those books we'd have in a big bin in
the store that would be marked down to a dollar, then to fifty cents, and
then I don't remember what we did with them. Maybe they were free.
I tried to explain to this woman that the book
she had was probably not worth fourteen or fifteen dollars that was on the
jacket, and the only way I could find out about it would be to call the home
office for advice. But by that time she was livid and stormed out of the
A month or so later, she was back again and made
a purchase. She mentioned something to the clerk who checked her out about
the book being for a friend and hoping she'd like it. The clerk said, "she
can always return it." And the woman called out, as she left, "I've heard
That always bugged me. It bugs me because I
never told that lady the truth: that her "friend" bought her a book for a
dollar or less and passed it off as a new title.
I just posted a link to "10
Rules for Writing Fiction." Great article with writing advice from
several authors. One piece of advice stood out to me. PD James said, "Read
widely and with discrimination. Bad writing is contagious."
Well, I'm reading a badly written novel right
now! Oh, dear.
I just finished reading
The Night Watchman by
Mark Mynheir, a local cop. I wouldn't say his was badly written; not bad
at all, actually. The
characters came alive for me in that I could picture them and I liked them,
but the dialogue was a tad stilted and often felt forced. However, the story was
satisfying and did keep my interest. What interested me the most, though,
was that Mynheir is an evangelical Christian and his protagonist is an
atheist. I just had to see how he did it! I was very pleased with the
The book (remaining nameless to protect the
author's reputation, which I'm sure needs no protecting from me; she is
published and I'm not, after all) I'm reading now is just awful.
Part of my distaste is due to a clash of styles. I don't like her style, but
don't have much against it personally. But another part of it is bad
writing. Her characters are always saying each other's names in dialogue.
"Why yes, Mary, I would like a piece of that lovely cherry pie." "I love
you, Tom." "I love you, too, Beatrice." "Oh, Tom." "Yes, Beatrice?"
Drives me nuts! And the characters do talk that
way, as if they're in a play. They're cardboard. And this is most definitely
why I have trouble telling them apart through the book. And worse, I don't
care about them. I don't feel them. But I keep reading because I'm stubborn.
I've not finished very few books in my entire
life. One was a romance novel I picked up so long ago I don't remember the
title. It was so bad I think I threw it. The main character was so perfectly
beautiful and she had this perfect singing voice. Perfection is not
interesting. The writing and the story were awful. How do these things get
Atlas Shrugged. I've tried twice to read it. It's just too boring
for words. My husband is reading it now and he says it's all about railroads
and how one group of people think you should run the railroad for profit and
one group thinks you should run it for the good of mankind. Boring? Yes,
boring. I still want to read it, though, because it's supposed to be a
life-changing book for someone like myself.
I didn't finish
The Lord of the Rings. I don't know which book I'm on--I read The
Hobbit and I may be on The Two Towers in the trilogy. It wasn't
bad, though. Just...long; and there are so many exciting books begging me to
read them. It probably didn't help that I'd already seen the movies (though
that hasn't stopped me from enjoying many other books).
And then, last year, I tried a book written so
poorly (it had the same dialogue problems as the aforementioned, only
worse...much worse, and several other problems to boot) I had to put it
down. I thought I'd better take a look at the end in case the author asks me
how I liked it. And there I found an uncomfortably graphic sex scene. This
book gives all other self-published (or POD) books a really bad name.
So, should I put the book I'm reading down? Should I
do something to exorcise the other bad writing I've read? I'd hate to catch
The AFAA workshop and exams are finally behind me! I won't get the results
for 4-6 weeks; so, just as with writing, time to forget about it and move on
to the next project.
I've been having dreams about my next planned
middle grade novel, so I'll probably put a lot of my time into that. But I
do need to finish one that I started last year.
I attended the Space coast Writer's Guild
conference and it was fabulous, as usual. Last year I bought a huge armful
of books, both traditionally published and self-published. I still haven't
read them all. This year I only bought one book:
The Night Watchman by Mark Mynheir.
He's a local cop and I always enjoy his lectures on the cop's life. I had to
bypass a lot of interesting reads, but the stack on my dresser is still
pretty high. We can't read everything, I guess.
I'm studying like mad to take the Aerobics and
Fitness Association of America's group exercise instructor certification, so
I haven't written as much as I'd like. I can't wait until this test is
Welcome to the new year! I finished the two books on my schedule last year.
I have three books planned this year with a fourth working in my head. Maybe
I'll get them all finished.
Check out the Oxford word of
the year. Mostly check out the comments section in which a lot of people
(much like me) argue over whether it's defriend or unfriend and over the
true meaning of the term teabagger. Nuts.
Don't yell at me, but I've decided to go back to
teaching Zumba. I originally stopped teaching because I felt I spent too
much time practicing when I could be writing. But, as it turns out, I am an
afternoon writer. I did write a few mornings, but I spent most "gearing up"
for the writing session on Facebook and Farm Town. Well, I'd rather be
dancing! So, I'm back to "having it all." (Not to mention the fact that I
regained 10 pounds after quitting Zumba. And now here it is a week before
the holidays officially start and I have to lose 10 before I can, in good
conscience, gain the holiday 5. Dang it.)
My latest novel is almost complete! I should be
sending it out next month. I really enjoyed this one: zombies! The
zombie/vampire craze may be over, but when you have a book in you that wants
to get out, well, you let it out.
Wow, I haven't updated this site for a long time. Yes, I've been playing
Farm Town. But I've been writing quite a bit, too. I'm nearly finished with
one of my YA titles and I've got a couple of short stories completed for the
Space Coast Writer's Guild contest. I'm
certain I'll enter one, but I'm not sure about the other. Either way, wish
Curses upon the man who ever thought of the app Farm Town! Arghh. I've never
spent so much time being virtually productive in my entire life.
2.0 is not a word. That sort of makes me curious about all the other new
words they've added over the years. How many of them are truly words? Just
because I can type it and use it in a novel doesn't really make it a word. I
suppose I can't adequately define the word word, but like art, I know it's
not when I see it's not.
Writing is going
well. Progressing on the two main novels I'm working on. I still have the
middle grade story in the back of my head as well as an adult fantasy. I
feel like I could write more. After some great advice from
Kristine Kathryn Rusch in
her blog, I've given up Zumba so that
I can write in the mornings as well as the afternoons. This was something I
was already battling with. Sometimes it takes another person to tell you
what you know in your gut to get you to take action. And yet, I still feel
that I could produce more if I was more disciplined. So the next two weeks
will be devoted to discipline.
Today is Towel Day, by the way. So
I spent last week at
Florida Tech's Creative Writing Institute.
All in all, it was fabulous. We started it all off with a keynote by
Philip Deaver. I sat in on two
lectures, one on writing historical fiction and one on monsters in film and
literature. We had lunches with David
Robert L. Shearer, and Martha
Powers and an evening coffee hour with
Anna Flowers. If that weren't
enough, we had three-day classes. I initially signed up for a sci fi class,
but it was canceled. I opted for a mystery writing class with Martha Powers
instead. And I took a fiction class and an advanced fiction classes, both
with Florida Tech professors.
I learned a bit and had a great week. But, I ate
too much, and didn't take a single Zumba
class. I feel fat today. Tomorrow, I'll pursue skinny again. And I've come
away with a renewed enthusiasm for writing full time. Two novels are up
front in my mind. One was a story I had all but given up on. But I took it
to class for a bit of critique and got some great responses to it. I think I
can pull it off. And the other is percolating very nicely. Between the two,
I think I have enough work to keep me occupied full time.
And I got a
Roomba! Ooh, I love my Roomba. The floors are always the worst thing,
don't you think? Now I can sit in my office and type all day and let Rosita
Roomba vacuum for me. (Yes, I realize it's a bit discriminatory, but it's
the name that fits.) And I'm going to train my cats to do
I've decided to read Doctor Zhivago again. This may come as a surprise, if
you read my earlier review, which basically stated, 'this is the worst book
I've ever read.' But, yes, I will read it again. I think I may be able to
appreciate the book a lot more after a review of Russian history, now that I
think I know what it's actually about.
was finally able to see the film and I liked it very much. But the film is
not like the book. The film is the story of a quiet, emotional man,
struggling against the revolution and between the two women he loves. The
film is a love story. Man marries woman, man meets soul mate, oops. That
sort of story. And in the end, of course, we learn he has a bad heart (aww)
and he sees Lara! He tries to get off the bus! He manages! He chases after
her! He collapses! (kind of funny collapse) And dies! Oh, the sadness.
Well, that's not at all like the book. The book
is about, in my opinion, a weak man--an opportunist, in the way that a
person floats from one opportunity to the next--a man struggling against a
changing world. He's married with a family. Then he takes up with a
beautiful woman. There is no mention of love or desire. We find out he's
been sleeping with Lara almost offhandedly, and at the same time we find out
he plans to end the affair. Zhivago is conscripted into the Red Army, and
after he escapes, he only takes up with Lara again because his wife and
family have been deported. He sends Lara away to save her life.
Then Zhivago, growing weaker and weaker, takes
up with another woman and has another family. He dies getting off a bus. His
death is in no way meaningful or monumental. There is nothing romantic about
And that is why I think I will read the book
again. I have a suspicion that Pasternak did not intend to write one of the
greatest love stories of all time, simply because he clearly did not do
that. I think Pasternak may have written a book about a man never being
allowed to become what he could have become. Pasternak's story isn't about a
beautiful soul and love, it's bare, tedious, melancholy, downright
sad--it's, frankly, human. And that's the kind of book I'd like to read.
I was over at the
Lipstick Chronicles reading about
Lisa Daily's crush on Shaun Cassidy (snork). I was going to reply but
there were already 68 responses and they all sound like they know each
other, don't they? I guess part of me is still stuck in wallflower land.
Anyway. I was going to reply about two things.
First, she only had one poster of said crush? Pfflbt. That's childish. Every
inch of my wall space was plastered with posters of Donny Osmond. His eyes
moved and followed me around the room. He watched me dress and primp and
pick my nose! Oh, Donny. All we've been through together! Donny was only
four years older than I was (still is, I suppose), so my chances of marrying
him were much greater than Lisa's of marrying Shaun. I had a little record
player over in the corner of my room and my mother had a little collection
of fancy bottles. I mean a collection of fancy little bottles. And I used to
turn this particular one upside-down and use it for a microphone and pretend
to be a singer, just like Donny (only female--wait, no, uh, yeah).
And, I was going to reply about the PG-13 film
that she wouldn't let her six-year old daughter see. Child. My youngest son
was 2 1/2 when he would beg us to let him watch 'great big T-rex get out the
boat and eat the guys', aka Jurassic Park 2, The Lost World. And he's
not warped a bit. Strange. Sarcastic. Possibly devoid of true compassion.
But hey, he gets that from his father, not Hollywood. (snork)
Let the kid watch the movie. She's too young to
understand the things she shouldn't understand anyway. But that's me and my
weird family. Maybe it's a good thing that our weirdness doesn't spread too
far. Then what would the world be? I mean, I might have to be sociable if
everyone was cool like me, right?
Announcing the winner of Dianna's Next Top Cat
JJ easily beat out his competitors: Squeakers,
who was too large and black and looked like something out of a B-rated
horror flick; Rice Cake, who kept giving the photographer 'Southern Madam'
instead of intellectual feline; and Tiger, who wanted nothing whatsoever to
do with a book or a seat by the window...until the shoot was over, of
So, congratulations, JJ (also known as Jeffrey
Junior, to his owner, Jeffrey, who clearly has something of an ego). Your
reward is fame, such as you can get here on my little website.
I still have a bit of work to do on the site,
but thank you for reading as it is!