“The great self-publishing purge of 2015″ and Other Stuff happening around the neighborhood

Scribd Starts to Banish Indie Authors from its Catalog by Michael Kozlowski. Who knows what this will mean for indie authors – but the ‘great self-publishing purge of 2015′ may be something we talk about for years to come. Or not.

Amazon Review Policy Under Fire: Indie Authors Call For Change In ‘Big Brother’ Policing. Looks like some authors/readers are fighting back and petitioning Amazon to change it’s policy on reviews. I hope they do.

Estate Planning Basics for the Self-Published Writer by Kathryn Goldman
Very straightforward and sound advice on how to handle your intellectual property as part of your estate.

Why Readers, Scientifically, Are the Best People to Fall in Love With by Lauren Martin. When I first saw this title I thought it was probably a silly, funny post but in reading it I actually saw it made some good points. Oddly, as a writer I never put ‘reader’ in the list of attributes I might want in a mate. How different things might have been if I had.

Everything is awful and I’m not okay: Questions to ask before giving up. This was posted by a friend in my Facebook feed. It’s a printable PDF file with a list of questions you might want to ask yourself if you’re feeling blue. Very common sense and it’s worth a look.

Have a great week everybody.

Writer Chick

Fourth of July Facts, Fun and Trivia

I love the 4th of July because of what it represents and also because I never met a barbecue I didn’t like. Nothing like liberty and ribs to get your engines revving, right?

“When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world…”

Following are some fun, interesting and possibly silly facts about the day of our independence:

The Declaration of Independence was adopted by Congress on July 2, 1776 but a revised version was not adopted until July 4th. In a letter to his wife Abigail, John Adams, who first proposed the idea of declaring independence from England, said he believed July 2nd would be a day remembered and celebrated in America for years to come.

The Declaration was written by Thomas Jefferson and signed by 56 men representing 13 colonies. Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration on a “laptop,” which was a writing desk that could fit on one’s lap.

The first ever July 4th celebration was in 1777, in Philadelphia which included a parade, a thirteen-shot cannon salute and fireworks. The first 4th of July party held at the White House, was in 1801 and held by President Thomas Jefferson. The oldest, continuous Independence Day celebration in the United States is the 4th of July Parade in Bristol, Rhode Island; it began in 1785.

The 13 stars on the American flag were arranged in a circle to represent equality among the original thirteen colonies. In all, there have been 28 versions of the U.S flag to date. The most recent was designed in 1958 when Alaska and Hawaii joined the union. Robert Heft 17 year-old high school student came up with the flag design as a result of a school project. He received a B- on the project, but when his pattern won the national competition to become the next U.S. flag, his grade was raised to an A.

Fireworks and parades to celebrate the Fourth has been around much longer than you may think – in that letter John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail he also said that the day “Ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.” In fact, colonists celebrated their independence before they knew they’d win the war. In addition to celebrating the Declaration it was believed that fireworks displays were used as morale boosters for soldiers in the Revolutionary War.

The Pennsylvania Evening Post was the first newspaper to print the Declaration of Independence. Approximately 900 copies of the Declaration were printed by printer John Dunlap. These are referred to as “The Dunlap Broadsides” of which only 26 copies exist today.

The song “Yankee Doodle” was originally sung by British military officers prior to the Revolution as a means to mock the disorganized American colonists who fought alongside them during the French and Indian Wars.

Presidents John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, died on July 4th; Adams and Jefferson died within hours of each other in 1826 while Monroe died in 1831.

The “Star Spangled Banner” was written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812 and not decreed the official national anthem until 1931.

Two of our nation’s national symbols were made overseas. The Liberty Bell was cast in England, and the Statue of Liberty in France. To avoid cracking it, the Liberty Bell has not been rung since 1846 – though every 4th of July it is symbolically tapped 13 times.

While Ben Franklin wanted the wild turkey to be the national bird, he was out-voted by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson who chose the bald eagle as the national bird.•

Americans eat approximately 155 million hot dogs on Independence Day while watching approximately 14,000 professional firework displays light up the skies in the United States each 4th of July.

4th Of July Humor

What did one flag say to the other flag?

Nothing, it just waved!

What’s the difference between a duck and George Washington?

One has a bill on his face, and the other has his face on a bill.

What would you get if you crossed a patriot with a small curly-haired dog?

Yankee Poodle

What was George Washington’s favorite tree?

The infantry.

For simple 4th of July amusement you can check out this puzzle and this puzzle.
And to test your knowledge of American independence take a quiz here.

Have a safe and happy Fourth of July everybody – and say a prayer for our troops and their families.

WC

With your whole heart – Are you all in or all out?

heartRedWhite

I’m one of those people who does things with their whole heart. I can’t be halfway. I’m either all in or all out. It’s just how I’m wired. Some see it as a character flaw because you know, I take things to heart. I take things personally. Because to me, it is personal. I mean anything that is part of my life is personal, isn’t it?

Sure I’ve tried to develop a thick skin and act like things don’t matter. It’s just a job or a crappy review, or some guy I didn’t want to date anyway – whatever it doesn’t matter. But doesn’t it? If it’s part of your life, it is personal. Doesn’t it have to be? I think so.

I once had a friend who told me she puts things in boxes. In her head. Must be a pretty organized head, right. You know? This argument goes in this box. This catastrophe goes in this box. My grocery list goes in another box. Wow, I sit back in wonder of people who can do this. I can’t.

But the truth is, I don’t want to live in a box. I want to live in the waves that threaten to drown me and tap dance in  thunder storms wearing my tin foil hat. Wail like a banshee when something hurts. Laugh like an idiot when something tickles me. I want all the colors in the crayon box. And I don’t want to color inside the lines either. Vivid, bright colors that make you shield your eyes. I want to talk loud when I’m excited, wear red lipstick just because, and paint my nails purple because it’s pretty. Eat the whole loaf of bread I just pulled out of the oven and slather it in butter.

Life is there to live, to experience, to try, to fail, to sometimes succeed. Maybe even to fly. So…with my whole heart I choose to aim for the skies. I’m all in.Always. Come what may.

What about you? Are you all in? All out? Do you feel with your whole heart? Do you hold back because you’re worried what people will think? Do you take one cookie when you want 10?

Speak with your whole heart (or whatever part you care to share) in the comments.

Writer Chick

Indie Authors “Owning It” and Other Groovy Stuff this Week

harley davidson

Found a few real nuggets this week – read them, bookmark them and refer to them often.

For Indie Writers: You have the control. Own it. By Elizabeth Hunter. Ms. Hunter makes the very good point that indie authors are not just authors but also publishers and instead of complaining we should own it. I’m with her. It’s your party, you decide the menu, the party favors, the guest list and everything else. Own it. Enjoy it. Do it.

I miss the blogosphere by Nathan Bransford. A sweet post that made me long for the good old days of blogging too. Before it was a social media ‘tool’

The complete list of creative distractions and defenses against them by Dan Blank A humorous and accurate list of how we allow ourselves to get distracted from our work.

Indie Authors Should Think Twice About Kickstarter by Michael Kozlowski. A short but profound cautionary tale about Indie’s going the Kickstarter route.

And last but not least, for Raymond Chandler fans –The Long Goodbye audio book at Audible

Have a great week everybody. :D

WC

Eight things a writer shouldn’t tell their friends or family

-WOMAN-SHUSH-

Writers are weird ducks – at least as far as ‘normal’ people are concerned. Our brains are a never-ending source of people, places, ideas, stories, worlds, languages, dialects and facts – many of which don’t actually exist. Except in our heads.

And we love to research. We collect strange, trivial facts like little boys collect bugs – can’t get enough of them. And given that we spend an extraordinary amount of time alone (in our heads) we’re not particularly good at social intercourse. Read – we lack filters.

But we’re creative. And creative is fun. And we want to share the fun. Especially since we spend so much time in our heads in our little rooms making stuff up.

So it might not occur to you that some things you just don’t want to share with your friends or significant others. Like:

1. The fact that you know at least 50 different ways to kill someone. Poisons, weapons, hand to hand combat, choke holds, garrotes, tools of torture, lethal herbs, how to mimic real life heart attacks – you know them all and find them fascinating. Sure, you need to know these things because you write murder mysteries. But do you think that cute guy or gal you just started dating wants to know that you could kill them 50 different ways?
2. That they are an inspiration for a character. Now you may think this will flatter them or make them feel special. However, given human nature, chances are they will search your stories for anything that even remotely sounds like them. Or they’ll criticize you for depicting them as a bitch or a jerk or stupid or somehow incorrect and unflattering. And God help you if you break up – a lawsuit could be in the offing.
3. That ten minutes into the movie you’re watching you know who did it or how the story will end. You’re a writer, you recognize plot points, inciting incidents, red herrings and every other writer device employed to create a story. And you’re okay with that because you enjoy seeing how other writers use those devices to craft a story. Your girlfriend/boyfriend, mom, sister, friend however, is not a writer. They don’t want to know the ending. They want to be surprised. So don’t ruin it for them.
4. That basically you think for a living. Let’s face it, we write and we write a lot but before we write, we think. While we’re writing, we think. We just think all the time – working out plots, character arcs, playing what if… Whatever. And the truth is a lot more thinking hours are logged in than anything else. This will surprise and likely disappoint your non-writer friends. Because they can think and nobody pays them for it. And let’s face it, we already have to deal with people who think that writing is the same as talking and since they can talk, writing really shouldn’t be a job, right? Imagine the response to the thinking angle. Although there’s boundless evidence that many people don’t or can’t think – everyone believes they are thinkers – and brilliant ones at that.
5. That you talk to your characters – regularly. Come on, admit it. We all do it. We all talk to our characters almost as much as we talk to the ‘real’ people in our lives. It’s part of the process. But strictly speaking, talking to imaginary people likely classifies as one type of mental illness or another. And those meds are expensive. And though  you get a lot of alone time in a little room, they usually won’t let you have writing implements.
6. That the character you created that they adore was once a clown with a gambling problem and a criminal record. It doesn’t matter that the character is currently a super hero who uses laughter to do good in the world. If you tell them about previous incarnations it’ll ruin it for them. They’ll never see the character the same way again. Ditto for first drafts.
7. Any idea you have for a book. Sure, there might be a few writer friends or beta readers you can run an idea by. But the average lay person will inevitably turn that conversation into an idea they always had for a book. They will then proceed to tell you all about their idea and offer it to you because they’ll never get around to writing it themselves. And heck fire, they’ll split the profits with you too. In the alternative, it may be such a good idea that your friend blabs it around and next thing you know, somebody else has written the book. Keep ideas to yourself.
8. How many books you sell/money you make. Unless you’re a NYT bestseller (in which case they’ll already assume you are a bagillionaire) keep your sales data and financial gain or loss to yourself. It only opens the door to criticism and suggestions of finding a real job or worse, advice on how you could do better.

If you keep these things to yourself you may pull off living up to the carefully crafted image of the mysterious, interesting writer that you’ve spent years creating. If you don’t ,you’ll just be Arnie’s and Mabel’s kid who lives in their basement and refuses to get a real job.

How about you? Have you told friends or family too much about your writerliness? Were they shocked, disappointed, sad? Did they point their finger at you and laugh? What do you keep to yourself as a writer? Speak your mind in the comments below.

Writer Chick

copyright 2015

Have you hugged your weird today?

banana man

Have you always been a little bit weird? A little strange? Dressed a little funny and maybe just didn’t fit in with the crowd. Maybe they even made fun of you because you liked purple sneakers or wore green with everything. Or your pre-meal ritual simply frightened them a little. Perhaps, you’re the only who ever laughed at your jokes – because nobody else got them, right? Until maybe purely by accident you bumped into a fellow weirdo and you secretly shared the joy of your weirdness.

Because you know something the non-weird don’t know. Being weird is really fun. And freeing. And those ‘normal’ folk have no idea what they’re missing either.

But this post is for the closet weird among us. Those who shared their weird with no one. Who only let their weird hang out when they’re alone or perhaps with a few close weird-minded friends. And to you closet weirds I say, “Embrace your weirdness.”

Why?

Well because…

  • It’s what makes you, you
  • It’s easy being the same as everybody else – it’s hard to be yourself
  • It might encourage suppressed weirdos to come out of the closet
  • It’s fun and makes you and others laugh
  • Behaving and doing what’s expected if overrated
  • It’s your God-given right

And when you feel alone in your weirdness, just remember there are/were lots of really famous weirdos, like:

  • Weird Al Yankowich
  • Einstein
  • Thoreau
  • Picasso
  • Robin Williams
  • Lily Tomlin
  • Annie Oakley
  • Dorothy Parker
  • Michelangelo
  • Shakespeare

I mean why be normal when you could be weird like these guys? Am I right?

How to embrace your weirdness

For those of you who’d like to give weird a try, following are a suggestions on how you might want to take it out for a test drive:

  • Spend the day playing nothing but Weird Al Yankowich tunes
  • Whatever requests are made of you today at the end of your answer add: “would you like fries with that?”
  • Wear two different sneakers to the gym and see if anyone notices, if they do, tell them it’s a new trend
  • Go to your favorite coffee place, order a coffee then sit in the dining room having a conversation with the main character in your book – if you aren’t a writer, then have a conversation with the main character of your favorite book
  • Start a fund for lost pens or homeless sneakers
  • Wear a top hat
  • Walk your dog or cat in a stroller
  • While riding on the bus sing to yourself intentionally screwing up the lyrics to well known songs (example: another one takes the bus, rather than, another bites the dust)
  • Wear a Tu-tu and ballet slippers, or any outfit that makes you feel happy
  • Tell people your favorite cause is lint preservation

Here’s a few pictures that might inspire you:

groucho girl white face clown little boy clown water in face

Or anything that strikes your fancy. You may find you really dig your native weird – because between you and me, everybody’s got a little weird in them.

How about you? Do you let your weird hang out or hide it from friends, family and co-workers? What’s your favorite way to be weird? What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done. Get your weird on in the comments – and knock yourself out.

Weird Writer Chick crazy puppet head

Gaming the System & Good Blogs This Week

Business Musings: Gaming the System by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. A frank, direct frontal assault on those who game the system. This post applies to writers but you could apply it to anyone who believes that tricking and gaming the system equals success. Even if that were true, what an empty success that must be. I also love Rusch’s incredible analytic skills and her ability to speak the truth in no uncertain terms. Must read!

Amazon is America’s best company. Says who? You! At least that’s what most people think, according to the Reputation Institute, an advisory firm that surveys the public about companies and industries.

2014 QUICK & DIRTY INDIE EARNINGS RESULTS by Brenda Hiatt. Interesting numbers and data on indie earnings for 2014. Worth a look.

DIY: Point-of-Sale Programs for Indie Authors. Discusses the pros and cons of authors selling their works directly. Informative.

Just for fun you can go to this site and make cool free twitter ready images

Have a great week, everybody.

Writer Chick

How many pages will you give an author?

There’s a blog that sometimes visit where the author takes the first page from NYT best selling books and analyses them to see if his readers would read past the first page. It’s an interesting exercise and he has a list of criteria that he follows to determine if it’s a page turner or not. And sometimes I agree with him on his analysis and sometimes I don’t.

In fact, this morning I read a post and I knew after the first sentence who the author was – because I read his books. Sadly, he didn’t fair well with most of the other commenters and it got me thinking about the whole concept of quick judgment.

The first page test

I don’t know when it happened but today it seems to be a given that if the first page of a book doesn’t slap you upside the head with a car wreck, dead body or exploding kittens that it is deemed bad – or at least not good. And God forbid that the author should tell you anything at all about the character because her wrestling with a twenty-armed octopus while solving world hunger should show you everything you need to know about our hero, right?

And writers seem to believe this because it seems that just about any book you pick up these days opens with some big confusing mess of action that you have to read twenty pages further to finally understand. Because that puts you in the moment. Or at least it’s supposed to. But does it really? In my case, it just puts me into a painful confusion from which I try desperately to escape.

And it’s not just this particular blog that seems to have this philosophy, you see how-to writing articles all the time about how you’ve got to grab readers from the first second. But that’s what they say about resumes too. And websites and movies. And well, just about everything.

So…what happened? Did we all just reduce our attention span down to that of a gnat? Are we all just over-active, hormone-laden 14-year-old boys who can’t land? Is substance a thing of the past?

The first 50 pages

Many years ago I saw an interview with John Irving, author of  The World According to Garp, among other best sellers. And he was asked how many pages he thought readers should give a writer before they decided to reject it or not. Irving’s answer was 50 pages. He went on to explain why and I honestly can’t remember his reasons but whatever they were they made sense to me.

And I have to say, that became my benchmark and has remained my benchmark for evaluating a book. Of course there are exceptions to that rule:

  • If the book is really badly written
  • If the topic or genre doesn’t interest me at all
  • If the writing is littered with typos, bad grammar

Things that would make anyone put down a book. But aside from that I try to the give the author a fair shake. I know that she sat in a room in front of a computer or notepad and spent hundreds of hours conceptualizing, plotting, writing, editing, rewriting, and doting over the story. So why shouldn’t I give her a mere 50 pages to make her case? That’s maybe an hour or two of reading – not a big commitment is it?

So what do you think? How many pages will you give an author before deciding to stop or keep reading? Why? What’s your criteria? Do you like books that start with so much action it takes your breath away. Or would you rather ease into the story? Feel free to expound in the comments.

Writer Chick

Mixed Messages or Making Sense of Writing Advice

As a writer I am always on the hunt for good writing advice — just like the rest of you. And there is no shortage of it – you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting at least 25 experts in the area. (I, by the way, am not an expert – just an everyday jamoke who likes to make stuff up.) And I have to admit, I believed a lot of the advice out there until I noticed a funny thing – contradiction.

For example…

Do not send work to an editor that is unedited, nor should you expect an editor to edit your article. Be a professional and send a well-edited polished piece or you will be rejected. Versus. No author should ever publish a book that they have edited themselves. Because you will miss errors, lack objectivity on your own work, and it will suck.

So, which is it?

I’m a freelancer; I make my living that way. I don’t have an in-house editor. I am everyone in my little business. And as any freelancer knows you have to learn to edit your own work, cut the flab, proofread, do the research and write fast if you want to feed yourself, much less succeed. So if I can do all that as a freelance writer, why can’t I do that as a self-published author? Does writing fiction suddenly turn me into an inept dope who doesn’t know the difference between a verb and a noun or how to spot a typo – or God forbid, cut out the flab?

Get your work out there. Versus. Do not be in a hurry to publish. This is another one that gets me. Out of one side of the mouth the expert says you have to write a lot, submit a lot, and get your work out there. But out of the other side of their mouth they say don’t be in a hurry to publish. Write the book. Let it rest. Do something else. Read it again. Let it sit. Do something else.

Again, which is it?

Most writers I know don’t have the luxury of spending several years writing a book. Not if they want to eat. And too you can’t really judge a book by how long it took to write it. I’ve read a lot books that took years to produce that sorry, sucked. And others that were written in a few months that were great. I don’t think you can determine quality based on how long it takes to produce a book.

Take as much time as you need to produce the best book you can — then give it away for free, so readers will buy your other books. Sorry but this strategy has never made sense to me. And while this strat may have worked in some bizarre g-tortional way in the past, it is now so over-used that I believed it’s backfired by producing a sector of readers who don’t believe they should ever have to pay for any book.

The thing is, writers need to eat. And often spend months or longer producing that book. Not to mention publishing costs. So shouldn’t they get paid a few cents a copy?

These are just a few examples of the contradictions I’ve encountered and have stymied me. But recently, I’ve realized that in a way I’ve created my own monster by assigning expert status to others who strictly speaking aren’t experts. In fact, many so-called master classes or programs in writing are produced by writers with little or not success under their belts. Some aren’t even writers.

My advice – if it doesn’t make sense reject it

I realize that we are all insecure to some degree about our work and having the reassurance of someone who knows to help us, is well, reassuring. However, if the advice is bad or makes no sense, or requires you to completely change everything you’re doing then maybe you should re-think it. Instead of reading every article under the sun about how to succeed as writer, or how to write:

  • Forge your own path
  • Actively seek out the information you need
  • Reject what just doesn’t make sense
  • Take advice if it works for you, not somebody else
  • Never compromise your own common sense

Luckily, there are some very awesome, experienced, knowledgeable, and honest folks out there who do give great advice. Tops on my list is Anne R. Allen – you may have your own guy or gal whose advice you consider the bee’s knees. If so, fabulous. If not, check out Anne or find somebody who has a big dose of common sense and an even bigger dose of honesty. You can’t go wrong with that.

How about you? Do you see writing advice that makes you scratch your head, scream, or just want to crawl into a hole? Have you ever followed bad advice that made things worse? Feel free to talk it up in the comments.

Writer Chick

copyright 2015