Amy Sue Nathan’s Women’s Fiction Writers: no heroes. no zombies. no high heels. well, maybe high heels.
Kristen Lamb’s Blog: WANA-We Are Not Alone
Amy Sue Nathan’s Women’s Fiction Writers: no heroes. no zombies. no high heels. well, maybe high heels.
Kristen Lamb’s Blog: WANA-We Are Not Alone
On a popular “talent” program, often the judges will tell the “contestants” that they must kick it up a notch, take it further or farther than before, give more, be more more more MORE! No matter how much the act sings her heart out, juggles his arms and legs in amazingly weird pretzel shapes, climbs towering structures and falls–almost–to his death, dances their feet bloody, the judges tell them it’s not enough. You must engage the audience in ways you never thought you could! In ways that show what you have done before is Just Not Good Enough! Two such acts on a recent program showed me how we do not have to set ourselves on fire.
The first act rose to death-defying heights on their motorcycles, proclaiming, and rightly so, that what they do is extremely dangerous. These guys have lost (and by lost, I mean they died–gone from this earth–no more) friends doing what they do. They pushed themselves to the limit, yet at the end of the death-defying heart-stopping act, the judges said, “You have to do more if you want the audience to love you.” So what did they do the very next week? They set themselves on fire, and did the same death-defying act as before. Later came the Houdini act: a man hung upside down while struggling quickly out of a straight jacket. How did he pump it up? By lighting himself on fire.
What next? How to top something so out of control? How to prove what doesn’t need proving: you are who you are; you do what you do, and you are good at it even without the flames. And the flames aren’t really fooling anyone–they see your core.
While I agree that we must always strive to do more and to be more, there does come a point in our lives where we must acknowledge that among all our striving, at the core of us, we simply are who we are. We give our best, and when we type The End, we feel pride and a sense of good work done. When it is just us and our work, we dream of our readers loving the words and language and characters because we created with love and hard disciplined work. No, we should not sit on our hands, rest on our laurels, give up and become lazy and sloppy. But to ask us to be more than who is the very core of ourselves, to give beyond the capabilities of our talents, well, what can happen is we set ourselves on fire and try to fool people into thinking we are doing something Great and Wonderful. It’s like the Wizard behind the curtain while fire roars! We’re still the little old man.
Do we really need to set ourselves alight with fire to grab our reader’s attention? Won’t our readers see what I saw with these two acts: they were doing what they know; what they do best, except for the addition of bright hot distraction. Why hide the behind the fire? What they’d done before was the top of their game, the pride of their life; a culmination of many many hours of hard work and sacrifice. We do live in a “viral video” society. Reality is that not many of us will ever go viral. I refuse to set myself on fire and risk a painful death of my Self. My readers deserve my best, and if I give my best, I do not need to add a distraction.
We are often those judges. The voices in our head judge us, tell us to set ourselves on fire–surely we’ll be noticed then. Surely we’ll grab everyone’s attention, so engulfed by flames we are! Are we only teaching others that we are willing to do anything to grab their attention? Anything at all? Why not let the work underneath the flashy flamed fire be enough?
So let it be written; so let it be done.
A skunk can spray up to ten feet away. The spray is a yellow oily substance—and guess what? Oil and water don’t mix; so if your dog is sprayed and you wet the dog, it’s going to stink worse—delightful, right? The spray contains as many as seven kinds of nasty “ingredients” that can easily be conglomerated by the skunk into a gas that explodes from the ass(it rhymed!)—that’s what makes it stanky; no, stanky isn’t strong enough a word—putridly pungent. A skunk stinks, yeah, but in a sobering addition to this light-hearted skunkfomercial: did you also know that skunk spray can cause severe anemia and death in dogs? Okay, only very rarely but worth a note if your dog loves chasing Pepe LePew.
are more intelligent, or any less intelligent. It does mean you process differently. But brain size is not a correlation to intelligence. The brain is larger to accommodate the extra body mass and muscle. Is to! Is TO!
10. The Perfect Every Time Boiled Eggs. Really! I swear! Put eggs in a saucepan and cover the eggs with water–I just added “the eggs” while re-reading this; didn’t want you to think I meant cover the pan with water -haha! Bring water to a boil and soon as it reaches that “roiling bubbling toil and troubling boil” turn off the heat, cover the pan with a lid, and let the eggs sit in the water for 14 minutes—no more! Some say 12 minutes; some say 13 minutes (what do “they” say?). I’ve had success with 14 minutes. Soon as the timer goes off—and if you don’t use a timer, you will forget and your eggs will suck–no one likes sucky eggs or to suck an egg; eww. No, you will forget–use a timer. I mean it; you will. Anyway, pour off the hot water, add cold water on top of the eggs in the pan, and add some ice to stop the cooking process. Perfect boiled egg.
that I left my sports car at home with my Louboutin’s. Seriously, though, folks. There is about 0.555785959992445566999999% of the population of authors/novelists who can do this “for a really good living without having another income” and 0.2455668855599999494994949 of those 0.555785959992445566999999% spend a lot of their time writing inspirational platitudes and giving writers advice about how we should be doing this and not doing that and all this blah blah blahdidly blah that they half-believe themselves but they’ve paid their dues, by golly gee, and can tell all us other writers how it is done and if we can’t do it that way, well no wonder we don’t sell books! The rest of us are varying degrees of starving, doing okay, doing pretty well, and pretending we are doing very well by posting upbeat Facebook and Twitter updates about how awesome we are doing and how we aren’t drowning our sorrows in wine and chocolate and sex—la tee dah, y’all! Haw!
Now, aren’t you glad you know all that? I know I am!
Touty Plug of the Day: I love this Facebook Page – easy, simple, uplifting, fun: Things I Like –About: “feel free to add your likes (3 per post)–just keep it clean–keep it positive. drop by or join our “365 day like-a-thon.” by posting here, we have your permission to include our favorites in the future, THINGS I LIKE ©”
I’ve taken up hitting the boxing bag. Not only is it an excellent cardio workout, but works/strengthens/tones the entire upper body—arms, chest, back, core. I “knee” it, too, thus adding some strengthening to my lower body. I often think of my father—he boxed while he was in the Air-Force, and while I’d never hop into the ring, it brings a connection all the same. But what I want to talk about here today is perceived weakness that keeps us from realizing our potential, because we often don’t recognize potential when we give up too easily, especially when we feel weak and ineffective in an area.
While boxing a couple of days ago, I’d punch the hell out of the bag with my right, but the left was weak and puny. I flailed away a few times and when my left arm just wouldn’t cooperate, I gave in and punched only with my right, every so often smacking unremarkably with my left just to give the right a rest—and, because I figured I had to do it, even if it didn’t feel right.
It frustrated me, this weakness, but the more I concentrated on the way my left fist felt when it connected to the bag— the weakness of that punch—the more I hated punching with that fist, and the weaker it felt. My workout wasn’t near as effective as it could have been, and I soon tired of it, finally moving on to something else. I came up with excuses as to why my left jab was pathetic: I’m right-hand dominate; I use my right hand much more often and it’s stronger; maybe there’s a pinched nerve on that side causing weakness, etc. and blah blah blah!
Two days later, I headed down to my workout room early, put in my earbuds to loud techno music, and slid on the gloves. Without thinking about what I was doing or how I was doing it, or why, or when, where, what, I just began punching the bejeebus out of that bag—right right right left left left right left right left right right left left left LEFT LEFT LEFT LEFT—POW BIFF BAM!
When I at last stopped, sweat pouring, I looked down in surprise at my left gloved fist, amazed at its strength and endurance. It was tingling and burning but it felt great! It felt powerful! I felt powerful and strong, and capable. I’d hit the hell out of that bag with what I thought was a useless left punch but instead was just as powerful as my right. I slid off my gloves and noted the redness and coming bruising of my knuckles and inside the soft portion between my pinky and “ring finger” and all that did was make me feel more powerful—it was visual tangible evidence of the power of my punch.
Did my arm/fist grow that much stronger over the two days since I’d last boxed? Nope. What I’d done was stepped up to the bag and without thinking about it I just began pummeling it. I didn’t think about weakness; I didn’t think about what I was doing at all. I allowed myself the freedom to find my inner strength. For whatever reason, I’d blocked myself from recognizing my potential by that perceived weakness.
Isn’t it fascinating what our minds can do? The tricks it can play on us? Sometimes, we must outsmart our own Self.
This is often how it is with the writing. When we approach our work with our fears and wants and needs and with conditions and scads of willy nilly jumbled up over-thinking-it thoughts, we encounter perceived weakness—the words stall, the language comes stilted, the characters blink at us from the page with perplexed expressions. The writing day seems flaccid and weak—just like that perceived weak left appendage of mine. We want to give up and give in, and we at last grow frustrated and/or bored and move on to do something else.
Yet, for many of us, when we just sit down, put our fingers to the keyboard, and let fly whatever pours out of the black hole in our brain, something seemingly magical happens. We become stronger writers almost overnight—well, dang! Because imagine if we wrote without those conditions, without over-thinking, without all the “What if this isn’t right?” “What if it doesn’t sell?” “What if no one likes it?” “What if a meteor falls on top my stupid head and smushes me to kingdom come and I never finish this and someone sees it before it is finished and it sucks and that’s the legacy I leave behind—a stupid half-finished work that sucks so bad everyone laughs and taunts and points their fingers at it?” What if we instead allow our beautiful subconscious minds, those deep instinctual strengths, to rise up from a place we cannot mine by peeking in the opening—we instead sometimes must amble, explore, stumble upon. Go for it. There’s a reason the clichéd advertising phrase Just do it makes sense—because it does work.
As I box, I will gain in confidence. I will become even stronger, yes, but I will also become better at the control of my body and what it can do. And as I grow stronger and better and more confident, I’ll start critiquing my form, how I’m hitting that bag, how my stance is—I’ll be “editing” my workout. So it is with the writing. I lift up my head and there will be a completed terrible (or not so terrible!) first draft—then the work of editing begins where I critique my form, check my stance, work on fine-tuning. I’ve done it with novels and other works that have gone on to be published—five, six, or more, times. What’s stopping me now? Perceived weakness, over-thinking, fear, conditions.
Stride into your writing room just as you will the workout room and instead of letting the world in, instead of telling yourself you are weak and can’t do it right, march in and just start punching (tippity tapping on the keys) away until you feel strong and confident and know nothing can stop you now.
If you all haven’t gone on over and checked out kat magendie novels that are on Kindle sale, and haven’t read any or some of my books, I hope you’ll go on over and give them a try. I as always am appreciative and grateful for my readers—thank you all for your support. It’s all for you. The link above should take you to a page that should list all my books and stories, and you can see the ones on sale. As well, I’m going to soon have a promo on my short stories, offering a few for free—since I rarely mention them and often forget them, they kind of sit there like little lost waywards, and I’m so proud of the artwork!
Now get to work(out)!
Touty mention of the day:
Head over to the Word Shark – Karen R. Sanderson’s Blog– Right now she has a guest there who does some amazing metal art
Karen R. Sanderson was raised by a mother who wanted to be an English teacher and who worked for Merriam-Webster as a proofreader and an aunt who could complete the Sunday New York Times crossword in a day. Their favorite expression was, “Look it up!” Karen reads punctuation and grammar manuals for fun.
Karen is an editor and proofreader, blogger, and writer. She edits fiction and non-fiction including: sci-fi, fantasy, children’s, mystery, paranormal, western, horror, historical, literary, and journalism. Karen completed her writing coursework through UCLA, the University of New Mexico, and Santa Fe Community College. She was the winner of the SouthWest Writers 2009 Writing Contest – The Best Hook. Her short stories have been featured in The Rose & Thorn Journal, Every Child is Entitled to Innocence anthology, Valley Living Magazine, BewilderingStories.com, and WritingRaw.com. She is currently working on collections of short stories and poetry.
At some strangeling point in an author’s career, she begins to be weary of her thoughts, and of the worries and stresses, and of the fears. Of the whole self-indulgence of it all. The whining and boohoo’ing and self-doubting. The loneliness and sacrifice. The highs and lows and the lows-highs-lows-lower lows-high-low and the roller coaster that was once so much fun begins to jerk you around and toss you into the air and pulls your stomach out through your mouth—Blorf.
The author begins to avoid the writing. Sneakily so. She’s crafty. Cunning. There is no lacking of excuses. Why, that’s the easiest thing in the universe, an excuse. You breathe explanations into your nose and down your throat and then vomit them back up—they don’t taste so bad once you get used to the sweet rotten of them.
People say to you, “I hear you’re working on a new book!” And they are so sincerely excited that you say (and you mean it at the time; you do!), “Yes! I’m working on something new.” And you are—sort of kind of. You are sort of kind of going into the word document and sort of kind of pulling it up and sort of kind of staring at it and then sort of kind of pecking away at it and sort of kind of considering how you just don’t want to do this anymore.
Maybe there will be a free-fall feeling. You’ll stand on the precipice, open out your arms, and just Let Go. The air will rush against your face. You won’t notice how the ground is growing larger and more menacing—the air feels so good! The freedom! The exhilaration that you’ve jumped right off the cliff and left everything behind you. “I was pushed!” you say, when people look at you strange—why, there you are flat and bloody where you and the ground met most undeliciously.
You stare at the bookcase, and there they are! Your books. You wrote them. They were published, and people read them—still do. They aren’t mocking you there but you turn your head away. Because it hurts to look at them, as if your published books are the morning sun and you are still sleepy and in the dark.
“Sometimes it just hurts too much,” a well-known author you admire once said to you. You didn’t understand that at all. You said, “Oh. Well.” And then you went back to work, smug with smugnitude. You think to contact that author and say, “Hey, remember that time you said that? Guess what! Me, too!” But you do not.
Why, it’s all about letting everyone think you are writing fully and happily, and the money is pouring in, and you are on the verge of greatness and successfulness and awesomeness and authorial queendomness! It’s about big smiles and posting pictures on Facebook with zippity do dah day quotes on them about writing. You are living the dream! You author you! You chuck yourself on the chin—aw now you!
You once looked forward to your royalty checks. How fat they seemed to you! How healthy and plump! You signed the back of them and skipped off to the bank, pride and love and luck filling your marrow. As time went on, you began to cringe, just a little, when you’d see the envelope from your publishers in the mailbox. You tell yourself that some authors would give up the fifth toenail on their left foot and then offer up the toe as well just to make any money at all. Still, you can’t stop the flutters in your stomach when you know the check will be arriving any day.
“Money doesn’t measure our worth as a writer,” you say, and you mean it. You really do. Still. You begin to worry about money. Who doesn’t? But somehow money received for writing books becomes entangled in how you feel about yourself and your talent and gifts and love of this profession. It makes the love tainted. You hate that. A lot.
All you wanted to do was to write. That’s all. All you wanted to do is to write. And write. And write and write and write write write write. “Please let me write,” you say to the only one stopping you—well, you, of course.
You don’t want to, but you wonder how much money other authors are making. You wonder how they feel when their royalty checks come to the mailbox. You wonder if one day yours won’t come anymore at all and you can’t breathe for ten whole seconds, plus five. It’s madness.
So, one fine day that has really been about three hundred and two fine days, you consider giving it all up. You will always have your books that were published. You don’t have anything to prove at all. You can pretend for as long as you can, and then one day no one will ask anymore. No one will think about you and your books. You will be forgotten by most. Your books will end up at garage sales, dusty with faded covers and torn pages. Or deep inside e-readers in a file marked “Old shit from authors no one remembers” that is rarely opened.
You can take up art or cooking. You can pick up your camera and see where its lens takes you.
There comes a time in every writer’s life when she will consider giving up the writing.
A day will pass. Two. Fifty. One-hundred. Three hundred twenty days will pass. It feels as if a ghost is following you, but when you turn around, it disappears behind a dreamlike tree that only you can climb, only you can see. The apparition follows you every second, every minute, every hour, every day, week, month.
It winks at you—it knows the joke is all on you. It knows you better than you know you.
It knows. When you are ready again.
You will write again.
When you are ready again. You will write again.
When you are ready again; you will write again.
You will write again.
Author writes book. Book is published. Book is read. Book is reviewed. Author reads reviews. Author is happy to see some great reviews. Author is devastated to see the bad reviews. Author begins to stew on those bad reviews. Author cannot think of anything but those bad reviews.
In the extreme, the author may comment back to the reader, telling her just how wrong she is to feel the way she feels about the book. Another author quietly sits, reading and re-reading the bad review—looking for a message, a theme, something-anything- that will tell them just where they went wrong and how they can fix it so they never have to feel this way again. And there is the author who laments on social networking how much a review has hurt him, made him feel small, made him question what he is doing and why, and will everyone hurry over and write a good review, and maybe even tell the bad reviewer how they suck for their opinion?–>(Oh, please do not do this, author!)
Author begins to lose sight of just how much it is really none of the author’s business what someone writes about their personal experiences of reading a book.
I stopped reading reviews a long time ago—right after my first book (Tender Graces) came out. Oh, I was reveling in the great 5-star reviews! I was feeling on top of the world when suddenly there amongst those 5-star reviews appeared a 2-star. Oomph! Kicked in the stomach feeling, a sickening crash—dark clouds amass, the world is coming to an end! Or wait a minute. Why would I not expect that to happen? Of course it must happen! I made a decision right there not to read that review or any other future reviews, good or bad, hightailed it out of Amazon, and never looked back.
Because it’s none of my business what a reader writes in a review of my book.
I went back to work. With each new book, I kept my promise to myself not to read reviews, and it has served me well. Kept my sanity—well, most of it. Being an author isn’t the easiest thing as it is—we worry about a lot of Stuff. A whole lot of Stuff. Massive amounts of not so crazy along with really stunningly crazy Stuff. Any Stuff that I can toss out of my worry barrel (I started to write “jar” but we all know it’s a gigantic barrel) is one fewer thing to obsess over. Right? Right! Especially if it is not in my control.
If it is not in our control, why are we still trying to control the uncontrollable?
Some will say we authors must read reviews to learn something about ourselves and our books, but I personally disagree. The review is not for the writer, but instead for the reader. If a book is good it will have good reviews, and it will have bad reviews. It will be hated by some readers and it will be loved by others. But guess what? If a book is badly written it will have good reviews and it will have bad reviews. It will be loved and it will be hated. One reader’s filet mignon is another reader’s can of dog food. We cannot all have the same tastes and likes and dislikes. Opinions are what make this world so interesting. Opinions and variations of character and thought and being sparks discussion and lively debate. It’s why there are so many books out there in so many different genres or even the same genre but with different stories and characters and thought and action and place and time and circumstance–so many people with so many different brains to stimulate to please or not to please, whatever the case may be.
We authors need to get out of the way of the readers’ opinions.
Really, an author who cannot handle the really bad review should never go look. It’s personal, but not Personal in the way some authors may experience it. It’s personal to the reader and how the book makes her feel, or how the book makes him experience what is happening in that created world.
The review has nothing to do with Me The Author.
Me The Author is not important. We may think we are, but we are not important at all. When a reader reads our words, they should not be thinking of the author. When they put down the book, then perhaps we come to their mind, we hope fondly; yet, even then, we are an amalgam of the words and characters and language and world we created, along with what the reader imagines us to be. We are not who we think we are to the reader, and that can be a beautiful thing to consider, no matter the outcome. We have reached out and touched another living being, even if they skewer us and grill us to a crusted crisp.
Readers do not recognize their power—they don’t realize how much we authors really do want to hear from them when they are touched by or enjoy our work. However, if a reader does not like one (or more) of my books, or maybe even hates hates HATES my work, why would I be angry with that reader? They have a right to love or not to love or even to detest my work. They have a right to kiss my book and lovingly set it in a place of honor on their bookshelf, or beside their bed where they can read it again and maybe again. And, yes, they have a right to throw my book across the room and scream that it is the biggest pile of dogshit they’ve ever read in their entire lives and they’ll never pick up another of my books again!
When I write a book, my thoughts are on my reader—will she enjoy it? Will he love my words? Will they be swept away by my characters’ stories? I want to please my reader. I want to make them happy. I want them to love me, because I love them. But I can’t write to please everyone—you do know that is impossible, right? To please everyone? Sure, some books are written that go on to make a gazillion bucks, but go to Amazon and look up a very popular book that’s making millions and there you will find readers who think that book sucks, and sucks so bad that they poured gasoline on it and set it on fire then pee’d on it to stop the flames and then stomped on it with dog-crap covered boots then swept up the nasty pile and buried it fifty feet underground where they never have to be reminded how they’ll never get the time back they wasted on that book!
I will always write with all my heart, everything I have, give readers all I got. I will send out my words and hope for the best. It is my gift to my readers. It is a hope to reach other readers. And no matter how they receive that gift, it is their right to express themselves however they want to without my interference.
It is wrong wrong wrong to make readers feel bad for their opinion.
It is not cool at all to correct them for their “wrongness.” It is uncool to try to sway the reader to change their mind and thus change their review. It super uncool to make them feel guilty enough to take down the review. It is super duper uncool and demeaning to the author profession to tell other readers to go defend that author and their work and make sure to tell that bad reviewer how they mightily suck–ATTACK!—-> (No no no do not do this, Author, please do not).
Our characters and words are no longer all ours once we send them out into the world—they are then everyone else’s. And that means sometimes the characters and words will be cherished and loved, and sometimes they will not and will not so bad that there are scorch marks left on the pages.
Welp, suck it up, Author, or get out of the way.
I get out of the way. I’ve never had readers send me “bad” mail. I’ve never had any reader treat me terribly. I’ve never been attacked by readers. I’ve had very positive experiences. Perhaps there are some reviews on my books that spit in my eye, but why would I care to know about it? That reader will likely not read me again and will find someone else who more fits them. I cannot capture everyone in my literary net and force them or guilt them into loving me. And I should not morph myself into some kind of Every Reader Pleaser.
So you readers out there—I adore you. No matter what. You can do no wrong. Even if you throw my book out the window and vow never to read my words again, you are still required–you are needed–you are wanted. And for those of you who have loved and then hated and then loved me again—thanks for sticking around! For those of you, dear readers, who love all of my work: Why, thank you! I love you, too, and I’m sure I’ll disappoint you at some point—ha! But it won’t be because I give up–I promise to do my very very honest honorable hard-working sincerest best, and that’s all I can do.
So, readers—go on out there and write your reviews! Write your best; write your worst! Just keep reading us. Just keep trying us out. Just keep us alive with your attention. Without you, readers, we are Nothing. N-o-t-h-i-n-g. That’s the truth. You will never do any wrong. The power is in your hands. I hope you will use it wisely and well. Meanwhile, I’ll get back to work and stay out of your way.
In nights of physical pain, I lift from my body, hover above, and watch my weakness with disdain. I dream without sleeping, float in a sea of nerve endings glowing red. I write beautiful words in the dark; they are slender threads of silver and gold, pulsing with meaning and truth. Pain purifies thoughts, sharpens the senses. In the night hours, I pity the part of me who demands attention to the fiery current racing down my spine and legs. I toss, turn, and wish it would stop. I argue my case, and pain argues back its own. One night, Pain opened up to me and said, “At times, I’d rather be called something else, like beauty, or hope, or joy. Do you think it’s easy being hated and feared? I do my job and that is what I do. Who told you life is lived without pain?” I answered, “Do your worst! I am strong!” And I lay there, and I felt Pain, and thought, who would I be without Pain? It’s become a part of me, attached to me as if an extra body part. It’s mine. And I can take it. I am strong.
In the quiet dark, I think how one day I will be a very old woman. I’ll walk crooked to the coffee pot, pour a cup, and holding the cup with trembled hands, I’ll shuffle to the porch, carefully sit in my rocker, pull a throw over my knees, and rock rock and think about pain and me and how we had a long good life together. I’ll wonder, did pain take away or did pain give insight, and empathy? I will drink every bit of my strong black coffee and I’ll be grateful for its taste and heat, and I’ll say, “Come on pain, today we will write, and then we will rock some more, and then we will read, and then we will rock some more. Life is good.” And it won’t seem but a minute that I am on Earth, just a minute. Just a minute. A minute. Minute.
I have noticed that my Graces Series books are fluctuating “on sale” on Amazon Kindle, at least two (Secret Graces and Family Graces) are right now under $5, with Tender Graces being under $8, so, I hope you will check them out while they are on sale.
My brother composed some music for the final book in the Graces Trilogy: Family Graces-remaining at a five-star review, though not as many reviews as Amazon would like, I’m sure *laugh.* I’m proud of the Virginia Kate Sagas, and VK will remain one of my all-time favorite characters, ever. I loved writing these books. Tender Graces (A gentle yet unflinching look at how we find our way home) was my first published novel. That was when anything at all was possible – and it still is. There are always possibilities. Tender Graces was nominated for an award, has been on the Amazon best-seller lists, and even was No 1 on Amazon over The Help, which at the time was a big best seller, and TG remains at a near perfect almost five-star review status, as does the other two Graces books. But all that is just Stuff – the writing of these Graces books were magic times for me.
There’s not much to this video because I just wanted my brother to know I respected the time he took to compose this music. Thank you, bro.
He took this music and renamed it “Ghost Horse Mountain” and developed a cd around it, called Ghost Horse Mountain. My brother never gives up on his dream – ever. I have to give him that. He’s his own unique brain – hey! I meant to write “brand” but that, too *laugh*
Now go after your dream – no matter where it leads you, it will be a journey you’ll never regret.
If we were to think about our writing life, and publishing life, in the way of a “traditional job,” we may consider things quite differently. You interview and you then “sit by the phone and wait for it to ring” (most things are done online now, but you get the idea), sweating, hoping. Phone rings—you didn’t get the job—DANG IT ALL TO HELLVITICA! That happens again, and again, until finally that phone rings and the answer is Yes! The job is yours! WHOOOP-WHOOOOP! You put on your work clothes and—
I’m set! I’m in the money!
The company offers you “upfront” money. That money will take care of expenses and such until you show them how successful you will be and how much money you will make them, or how much output you provide to make yourself a worthwhile risk. They’ll hold back your salary until you work enough to make up that upfront money. If you work for a huge company and they have reason to believe you’ll make them lots of moola, your advance could be Big. But, if like most of us pea-headed littlers you are more of a risk, advances aren’t going to be big, and some “companies” do not pay advances at all.
I receive advances on my books that are manageable enough to “earn back” quickly. You have to “pay back” that advance—meaning, you have to sell enough books to cover the advance before you begin making royalties. Dream big, but know the realities, y’allses.
I’m going to buy a car and a house and ten gallons of gelato from my trip to Italy. Zippity do dah! Zippity Ay!
Better check your salary again, y’aaaawwwwl! Whether big business or small, the money the company takes in and doles out—including your salary—has to go many different places. Imagine Good Ole Bubba’s Tools & Supplies. Bubba the owner hires you to make tools, and when you make those tools, he sells them. From that money he has to pay rent or mortgage on his building, utilities and other expenses; he has to pay taxes, insurance; he has to buy inventory; he has to pay all of his employees; he has to pay himself. If you provide Bubba with a service, you are only a part of the entire operation of who has to be paid. The money has to be spread around to keep the business afloat.
So, your book is published—print, e-book, ethereal transcription on a moonbeam. Everyone involved receives their cut. Industry standard royalty rate ranges, give or take percentages based on that particular contract, are from around 6 to 15 percent for paperback/hardback and 25 to 40 percent on ebook. So, let’s suppose you earn 10% royalty on each print book you sell, and your book sells for $15.00: 10% of $15.00 = $1.50 per book is your cut—well, not exactly, as you must pay taxes, and “pay back” any expenses you incurred (if any), and for those of you with an agent, take 15% more off the top of that $1.50 before you do anything else. Lawdy be in a bucket!
Takes a whole lotta books to make a living off that, doesn’t it, my beauties? Now, e-books earn a better royalty, and you can plug in the numbers yourself—still, tain’t a goldmine lessen you become a Kindle Millionaire or sumpin’—be realistic about your salary. Royalties can be really good one royalty period and not so good another royalty period. I have had royalties for a year that weren’t as much as just one royalty check earned off the sales of a book promotion. It’s a stressful way to make a living if you are on one income, and finding another income source is most likely a reality.
Dream big, but temper it with the certainties of just how difficult it is to make a good living being an author.
You’ve been working hard. You’ve put in your time and then some. You walk by The Big Boss’s office every so often, showing him/her your determined face, your sincere attitude, the nights you’ve stayed late, the weekends you’ve worked, the family time you’ve sacrificed. You’ve gone to meetings and didn’t even fall asleep-haw!—okay, once, but no one was the wiser.
You’ve done everything you can think of to be noticed by The Big Boss. And, well, he/she just doesn’t notice you. He/She has so many other employees who are doing the same thing, and some of them are backed by People who are able to slip into Big Boss’s office and put in a good word, or, some other employee just happens to be in the elevator with The Big Boss when she/he’s in a good mood, or when he/she just happens to be looking for that particular person’s smile or nod or look or good morning. Or somehow, an employee has some buzz going on a project he/she did and it develops legs and ruuuuuuuuuns.
There’s a lot of competition out there. And lotso times, the Big 5 (I believe it’s still five now) published authors garner the most attention, or the authors who’ve already had best sellers or are gaining attention for some other reason, et cetera-oony. It’s a saturated business, folkses. It’s a tough business. The Big Boss is busy, and important, and frankly, doesn’t have time to come to know every little employee out there—no matter how sincere or hardworking, and even, no matter how lovely and captivating and beautiful your work is. Yup. Dang.
My book will be in many bookstores across the land.
Your proposal is done. You’ve worked hard on the Slim Slam Piddly Lam account. It’s all done up in a nice folder, and you are proud of it. Now time to get it to the right hands. There’s two-hundred offices in the building; heck, if you could get even one-hundred or so Boss Peoples to look at your proposal, why, even that would be great; better to have all two-hundred, but, you’ll settle for half. You take your shiny proposal for the Slim Slam Piddly Lam account and make a hundred-fifty copies. You put them on your desk and wait. One person comes by—it’s Ms. Office Fifteen. She’s been a casual acquaintance and you bought her coffee one day. She takes a proposal, then because she likes you, she takes three more. HOT DAMN! You are on your way! Whooooop Whooooop! Four proposals! The other hundred-forty-six sit. La la la tee dah. *check watch* *tap fingers* *tap toes* *sob a little*
You make the rounds of a few offices: “Will you take my Slim Slamp Piddly Lam account proposal?” And a couple take one, but it ends up under a big stack of other proposals.
Some shake their heads no. They have enough proposals, no more space. You realize you just don’t have time or funds or energy to go to all hundred-forty-six offices, so you place your Slim Slam Piddly Lam account proposals on your desk, again, and hope word will get around—ungh ungh. Your supervisor who works with you on accounts is helping, too, taking half of those proposals and sending out word, newsletters, samples, et cetera. A few more proposals are placed, but nowhere near what you thought.
The truth is: sometimes you and your publishers (agent/editors/publicists, whomever) have to practically beg a bookstore to stock your book—until they tire of begging and stop—even if you are traditionally published by a viable press. Bookstores have limited space and they’re going to stock the “bigger names” –that means bigger in publishers and in authors.
Sadly but true, you can be a champion of brick and mortar bookstores, but when you approach them, they may or may not care. They may or may not stock your book. They may stock one just to be nice. Since you can’t conceivably contact every bookstore there is, there’s no way to have your book noticed by many bookstores—for them, it’s about their budget, and sentimentality usually goes one way: the author may be sentimental about having their books in brick and mortar bookstores but the sentimentality is often not returned—it’s a hard cold world out there in this book business. Make friends with your local bookstore owners and you probably will have success there, at least.
This is why Amazon and Nook and other e-readers have become important to authors—authors feel “heard” and authors are able to see their books on “shelves.” And author’s books are more likely to be read.
Once I have one book published, I am assured to have more published.
You landed the Shots a Lot account! Oh Happy Days are Near Again! Surely now the next couple of accounts will be Yours! You can kick back and relax now. Or . . . not. Well, dang it all to Dang Town!
With each book, you (or if you have an agent, the agent) still need to convince your publisher/publishing editor to take on your book. Even if the last book was successful. Now, granted, if you’ve had success with your first book or books, the chances are higher; however, you still need to present the book and have it approved.
This means: just as with the first time, you’ll write your novel without knowing whether you will have it published and without knowing whether all your work will be realized in print/e-book. You write regardless of the outcome. You write never knowing where it will take you, or if you will be published, if you will ever make a dime, or if you will only make a dime.
So my lovelies, tell me:
How many jobs would you take knowing these kinds of odds? How many jobs would you take making an unknown salary? How many jobs would you take where you could work your arse off for weeks, months, a year, or more, and Maybe MAYBE be paid, and maybe not? Would you take that job?
You have to love this business and have a crazy amount of faith and hope and daring.
(pardon this reprint of an earlier post – I have a danged ole Texas cold! I rarely was sick in the mountains, but here? Dang!)
Touty Plug of the day: (I’m really happy with how the covers to these little sweet stories turned out – beautiful water colors).
On your lunch break? Sitting bored in a waiting room? Need just one little simple story before you go to sleep? Shortie short stories are satisfying, and can be read quickly in one little spark of time. Download one of Kathryn Magendie’s very short stories, between 3,000 and 6,000 words, and gobble them up in one gulp—a nice little story-snack.
And what I hear is a lot of “what if” and “if only” and “If I could just” and “So and So is doing this and that’s what I want” and “Why can’t I?,” and so on and so forth and blah diddity do dah day. I’m not immune to it, but I am growing ever more Aware of it. Circuitous thinking, round and round it goes, endless. Our desires are always a step ahead of our needs; round that curved corner we can’t see from where we are . . . and we must see . . . we must . . . must’nt we?
Funny thing is, we don’t remember when we were Wishing for that something from before because when we reached that goal, we were already circling to find the next Thing, and that for which we wished for prior has already been left behind and forgotten, discarded.
Don’t get me wrong here, having goals and wanting success is not a bad thing. What I am talking about is our discontent or dissatisfaction with what is happening right now, that thing that we had wanted to achieve so very much, before we actually achieved it.
So, round and round we go trying to grab the next thing, when in reality, we are stepping over all our successes, great and small, along the way. Oops! I just stepped over the goal of starting my project/finishing my project! Oops! I just stepped over my goal of finding an agent/having my work published/getting paid for writing/querying agents-small presses-lit mags/having someone I respect love my work or encourage me. Oops! I just stepped over my goal of my work being published. Oops, I just stepped over my goal of (fill in blanks). And as you circle, you pass people who are running to catch up and pass you as you run to catch up and pass someone else.
I remember a quote by Michael M. Hughes when he was a guest on an author friend’s blog (helluo librorum), and this thought of his bolded in my head: “If you have even halting, tentative success, realize how lucky you are.”
So, whatever the case may be where you are, take a moment to breathe in and out, and NOTICE just where you are Right Now, and then, take just a glance backwards to remember how excited you were when This Happened—that first glow, that first happy realization that you met your goal before you left it behind and began the round and round and round.
Each success should be savored. Roll that thing in your mouth like a big piece of sweet candy –the good kind, not the kind nobody likes –and instead of crunching through it and swallowing it, let it slowly melt before you reach for the next piece.
And remember how there is always going to be someone behind you and someone in front of you and someone running over you or pushing you out of the way, someone who sets up circle-roadblocks in front of you—but if you stop the mad dash round and round and appreciate each experience, you will find some peace.
I know most (all?) every one of us will forget this advice and/or ignore it from time to time, repeatedly, but for right now, we have right now.
Touty Plug of the day: SWEETIE. One of my most favorite books and character(s). It’s the favorite of many of my readers. A coming of age story. Suitable for younger readers, as well. I’m rather proud of this book. I’ll savor this accomplishment like a big ole piece of candy — chocolate!
A little mountain town in the 1960s, a reclusive girl, an unlikely friendship. Melissa will come to understand that just because Sweetie feels no physical pain, does not mean she cannot be hurt . . .
For shy, stuttering Melissa, the wild mountain girl named Sweetie was a symbol of pride and strength. But to many in the Smoky Mountain town, Sweetie was an outcast . . . .
Wicked Witch of the West: Ah! You’ll believe in more than that before I’m finished with you.
In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and Friends quake and quiver and stare in respectful awe at The Great Wizard. The curtain hasn’t yet been thrown back to show the little old man who hides behind a great fiery bravado.
Dorothy: It really was no miracle.
Once the man behind the curtain is revealed, the magic and mystery is gone. The man is exposed and thus isn’t viewed in awe, isn’t revered as The Great One. He’s only a man with a few tricks up his sleeve that he’d used to his advantage. He must come out, show his true self (and all along his true self was wonderful indeed–he never recognized this before).
Sometimes it’s like this with writers. Or, maybe I should say it was like this for writers. The little old man behind the curtain with all his levers and buttons and devices used to project the aura of magic—an enigma and a mystery. But, somewhere along the way the curtain was pulled back to reveal just who and what was behind all the fire and booming voice and bigger than life image projected.
Wizard of Oz: Step forward, Tin Man!
Tin Woodsman: Ohhhh!
Wizard of Oz: You DARE to come to me for a heart, do you? You clinking, clanking, clattering collection of kaligenous junk!
Now, with so much exposed, writers are pushed out into the world, blinking in the sunlight, their mouths in soft O’s of surprise, turning this way and that to all who stare at them and say, “Wait just a minute here—behind that curtain is just . . . you? What’s so special about . . . just you?” And like the wizard, the author must explain him/herself and then offer up gifts to show they really do have something more after all to give, and not just all the flash and thunder, but something more—what what? what they ask, what more? Our heart, Our brain, our courage . . . .
With the internet, social networking blogs twitter Facebook, et cetera; the author can no longer easily hide behind the Wizard’s curtain. Most all is exposed. The awed revered mysterious respect authors may have once enjoyed can be torn asunder as the heavy curtain has been drawn back and people peer in at the levers and buttons and projected image paraphernalia.
I don’t know what it felt like to be an author during the Wizard Times. My experiences have all been after the curtain was thrown back and the Wizard’s controls were set to “off” and the fiery veil died down to embers. I have been the little old man from the beginning—exposed.
I’ve shown my heart to you through my writing. I’ve given of myself through what I reveal on my blog or Facebook, or any other site I may wander through or write thereof henceforth et cetera.
I still hide—there are sides and parts and parcels of me that I keep to myself. But, open my books and I am an open book. My heart beats within and among and between the pages of my words and characters.
I give myself to you, my heart. Tha-rump, tha-rump, tha-rump.
Wizard of Oz: You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate impression that just because you run away you have no courage; you’re confusing courage with wisdom
Artists, actors, musicians, authors, athletes—all have had the Wizard’s curtain pulled back, leaving them vulnerable to speculation, observations, opinions in a way that is much more public and personal than ever before.
Lately, I have run away from it. I’ve not been writing. Oh, maybe something here, something there—no, I lie. I lie, lie, lie! I have not been writing at all. I’ve been running far far away from myself. I’ve been denying the heart of me and I wonder: do you feel the distance, my lovely readers? Do you miss me at all? And then I feel foolish for my meandering thoughts, for there are so many of us! How is even one missed? I quake and quiver—I’m confusing courage with wisdom.
How many times have you heard someone speak about the “downfall” of a “celebrity” with a little too much glee in their voice? Or a sense of “Huhn, they thought they were SO smart and SO important—now look at them, they’re only just a little old man and not a Great Wizard after all! How Pa-The-Tic!”
What goes up must come down. The bigger they are the harder they fall—you’ve heard the clichés. There were those halcyon days before, when that writer/actor/singer/musician/athlete followed that yellow brick road looking for the wizard—some to unseat him, some to find out his magic to take for their own, some to find heart or courage or knowledge or home.
The stakes seem higher now, the road longer, the expectations bigger. What’s a poor Wizard to do?
Scarecrow: Come along, Dorothy. You don’t want any of *those* apples.
Apple Tree: Are you hinting my apples aren’t what they ought to be?
Scarecrow: Oh, no. It’s just that she doesn’t like little green worms!
Follow the Yellow Brick Road. Follow the Yellow Brick Road . . .
We’re off to see the Wizard, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
You’ll find he is a whiz of a Wiz! If ever a Wiz! there was.
If ever oh ever a Wiz! there was The Wizard of Oz is one because,
Because, because, because, because, because.
Because of the wonderful things he does.
We’re off to see the Wizard. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
There will be a new day in the land of Oz—old ways turn to new ways. Things cannot stay the same because the Land of Oz is changing.
But even home has changed, for Dorothy herself has seen the other side, seen behind the Wizard’s curtain.
And she turns, turns, turns—going to some altered version of what may or may not be truly home, never to be the same again.
But after all, is that so bad? It is neither bad nor good—it is life and love and hope and fear and trying again and again and again and giving up and giving in and getting up and going forward.
Oh! Auntie Em! Auntie Em! I’m following another road! Where . . . where . . . where . . . where . . . where . . . ?