Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Perks of Being a Writer.

Image by:Simon Howden at
Perks. To writing. Yes, there are some. Depending on your point of view. Most of us LOVE this work. Some parts are not cool...but that's another blog. Here, in order of which I've thought of them, are reasons why being a writer rocks.

1.  For the most part, you are your own boss--You're alone in your office/house. Or maybe the kids are sleeping and this is your time to create. YOU decide precisely how much work you get done.

2. No cubicles for you--At least not unless you work for a newspaper, and even journalists have to get out of the office. Writers get to create their own habitat which can and most likely includes coffee, breakfast, lunch and all things edible at your desk. Or maybe tea and chocolate. And nobody is going to judge you for the condition of your desk.

3. You can choose your background noise. Whether it be music, TV, screaming kids or silence, you choose your racket.

4.You make your own hours. You eat, sleep, poop and shower whenever you want. Just as you pick the destinations of your characters, you pick what you do all day.

5. Genius mode. The euphoria you feel when you've written paragraphs of brilliance that you're bursting with pride from having those words coming from YOUR brain.

6. Awesome reviews--Nothing strokes the ego while simultaneously giving profound relief like good reviews. It's confirmation that the tales you hold so dear to your heart are appreciated. And that all your hard work was worth it.

7. You meet a lot of other writers and fans. That's a blast. No one understands you like other writers and the adoration of fans is a drug that reaffirms that you know what you're doing.

8. Just expressing yourself and the images in your head is worth pretty much any cost. It's why we do it. It's the reason why it's all worth it.

Stay tuned, and I'll tell you the pitfalls of being a writer. Just not next week.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bad Reviews Bare

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All writers get bad reviews. It's a given in this business. And if you can't take it, you are in the WRONG business. Every one of us knows that.

I remember my first bad review. It was a two star, and the reader 'just couldn't get into it'. I was surprised at my reaction....It didn't hurt. In fact, it was a bit of a relief as I came to the realization that I couldn't please everyone. Not everyone would understand or like my work, and it took the pressure off a bit.

Of course this meant giving up the dream of uniting the planet in peace and love, like the 'Wild Stallions' of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

Bummer as it was, this is reality. You can't please everyone.

Now, since I know that, why is it so hard to GIVE a bad review?

This is my third time with this dilemma, but the difference is...I didn't finish the last two books. They just couldn't hold my interest. To be fair, both were YA (Young Adult) and I've come to the conclusion that besides 'Hunger Games', I simply don't care about that particular genre.  No finish, no review. It wouldn't be fair.

So I won a collection of short stories from an indie author. I'm almost finished the book, and I am faced with an uncomfortable situation.

This writer gifted me with a FREE copy of his latest work, and politely asked me for a review, which we all do. Here's the problem:
      I hated it, and since it's short stories, I kept reading, hoping for something I could immerse myself in and enjoy.

I found ONE creepy, awesome ghost story. All the other shorts are negative, devoid of pleasantness or happy endings. The characters have constant, circular arguments that only add as filler. They all have the same accent. Some of the stories have no point at all. There's a lot of typos. (But who doesn't do the occasional typo? This blog and my Facebook pages are LITTERED with them, because I type with two fingers.)

I don't want  to point out their shortcomings in public. If it wasn't for relentless, brutally honest critique partners, I wouldn't be any better. (Again, thank you Suzanne, Jan and Dawn.)

My publisher tells me to never give a review for an indie author unless you can give it at least THREE stars. Which is well and good, but it looks like I love everything and everyone like some kind of throwback flowerchild. I'm scared I won't look 'legit'.

Does anyone have any advice? How do you give a crap review when you are an author yourself?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Don't Follow the Tomato! (Tired rantings written a few days ago)

Sooooo close. El Toro from Looney Tunes

So the bull jumped from a third story window to the street. He gave me this he had no idea how he got there....But I understood completely. Just like I understand why the vegetables visit at night.

This is how my brain tells me I'm falling asleep.

I'm on the very cusp of slumber. But this time I got up instead, because I started giggling and suddenly I had to pee. And I couldn't help but share this with you because the confusion on the bull's face was priceless.

Surely I'm not the only one 'blessed' with cartoon characters for Sandmen? Why are my escorts to dreamland animated versions of various produce or in this case, livestock? (I saw marshmallow puppies last week.)

As a life-long insomniac, I've learned interesting things about my sleep patterns over the years. I sleep better in the city, rather than smaller towns or farmhouses. I sleep better with some lights on and a little bit of noise. I need to be REALLY warm...Two blankets in the summer kind of warm. If I fall asleep with the television on, and my husband shuts it off, I will wake up immediately.

I've recently recognized how my thoughts turn to cartoons or become extremely abstract as I drift off. Does anyone else get wacky crap like that? Or am I just weird?

I'm too tired to write anymore but I'd really like some opinions. All I know for sure is that the tomato with the gangster accent (Pssst. Hey, writah. Yeah you. C'meeeeere!) is a bad influence on me, and I shouldn't listen to him when he tries to coax me through that blue door. He usually ditches me on the highway.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Pirate Ho!

Image by: James Barker/
 I must be getting better known. Or maybe somebody considered 'Thoeba' worthy of this dubious honor. I've been pirated. Please don't tell me to feel flattered. I hate pirates and everything they stand for.

It's on a site that allows people to download HUNDREDS of books for free. And no, I'm not giving out the link. One never knows who they can trust these days.

I know a writer who recently held a contest to give away ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) on her Facebook page. I won one of them.  Before I even had a chance to find mine in my e-mail, she discovered her novel on a pirate site. It isn't even officially published yet! Now she knows that someone she gifted with a free copy of her book betrayed her kindness and generosity...

What pisses me off the most  about my situation is that 'Thoeba' is only 99 cents! Really? Are people that cheap that they aren't willing to fork out a dollar to support a writer and her independent publisher? Do they know who they're stealing from?

They are stealing from Staccato Publishing. It is a small independent publishing company owned by Heather Savage. She spends a huge amount of time and money to promote and distribute her writers. She's got a skeleton staff to help with marketing, editing, and other things like book covers. No one there can afford to do it full time. They all have other jobs, and nobody is getting rich.

And they're stealing from me. I love writing. And I'd like to make enough money doing it so my husband can quit the job that makes him miserable and maybe go to school to do something he'd love.

I believe only myself or Staccato should have the right to give out free copies for promotion. And NO ONE ELSE should profit from all our hard work.

Because you know what? When the pirates take from an author, that author wonders why they're working so hard. Why they put so many hours into their passion only to have someone else use them. And when those writers stop publishing, and the small time publishers disappear, you can all go back to buying the pricier books from bigger publishers. They can afford better lawyers.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy 2014

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Happy New Year! Hope your holidays went well...

Mine was filled with hordes of family and friends descending upon my house like a cheerful avalanche of hobbits seeking second breakfast. It was wonderful!

Having said that, I'm going to be glad for the ordinary routine. The chaos that is Christmas is always awesome, but it's time to get off the ride. Time to get some writing done.

New Year's Resolutions? It's all about health and well being. I need more exercise. I'm finding that the more I write, the less I get outside and get moving. Heck, I don't move much at all! The irony is, the less exercise you get, the harder it is to think. Fact. Therefore, harder to write.

I'm signing up for more belly-dancing lessons, and I'm getting back on the vegetable wagon. I'm going to designate a time in my routine to use my Wii and get my husband to teach me how to set it up.

My husband and I agree that I should get another car so I can get out more. Oddly enough, I believe I will get more exercise if I do.  I assumed that without a car, I would spend more time walking. Instead I found more excuses to stay inside. Too cold, too hot, too far. Not enough time to make the trip anyway, etc.

People make jokes about folks who drive to the gym or park to exercise and then drive back home. Why, they ask, wouldn't you just WALK there and get more exercise? Isn't that the point?

I can answer that. Say you are a large person like myself, who is in varying degrees of physical shape and healthat any given time. How far away is your park? Your gym? Have you ever found yourself kilometers from your house dehydrated, sick and exhausted only to have to turn around and go home? Been there. Not fun. Dangerously unhealthy.

At least if you find yourself sweaty and feeling ill from over extending yourself, you can get in your air-conditioned car, and go home. Or go to the store to get water. And when your energy levels are unpredictable that is a nice safety cushion to have. So there. Not everyone is an athlete with sound knowledge of their limits.

So here I am, pledging once again to reclaim my health. Lets hope I'm more successful this year than I was the last. Wish me luck!