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Archive for ‘September 2009’

Why Ban the Damn Book?

As many of you probably already know, this is Banned Book Week. I realize many of you will come across hundreds if not thousands of blogs from authors, librarians, booksellers and readers about the injustice of attempted bannings across America. And no doubt articles from newspapers, magazines, political and social conservatives tearing down the practice of taking one week out of each year to bring to the nations attention that book banning is no longer a thing of the past.

As an aspiring writer and avid reader, it should come as no surprise that I support Banned Book Week. It saddens me that people, and it seems it's mainly parents, feel that any book, any story, would be not only be unfit for their childrens minds, but for ANY children. You see, the majority of books people ask to have removed from library shelves are young adult genres, books meant for middle and high schoolers. Often the books that are challenged are due to sexual content and drug abuse, but they run the gammut from offensive language, homosexuality, religious and or political viewpoints, violence, and racism. Ready to start challenging books? WAIT.

Has it not occurred to some of these book banners that these stories can actually HELP young adults overcome some of the obstacles of life? Take for instance Crank, by Ellen Hopkins. A story loosely based on her OWN DAUGHTERS emergence into drugs, prostitution to get money for those drugs, rape and pregnancy. This is not a pretty thing. Yes, there is sex and drugs, but this is a cautionary tale. And I took that warning. I had friends in high school that were into drugs, some more than others. I never felt comfortable talking with my parents about either subject, and I'd considered experimenting in both, partly to see what if felt like and partly to be 'cool'. I did neither, because of Crank. It scared, and pardon my language, the ever living crap out of me. The truth of what could happen to me if I even toyed with drugs or sex horrified me. I even hit one of my closer friends for asking me if I wanted to join them at her house for some 'dope shit' as she called it.

Quite frankly, my story is lame compared to some of the letters Mrs. Hopkins (sorry if I got the salutation wrong) has received over the years. She has cited letters from girls in the SAME POSITION as she'd written. And it had given them HOPE. All her books portray the horrors of real life, lessons for children to learn if they are not in those positions. They are hard, gritty, and even for me sometimes difficult to read. But they are also good, they teach and show, and they make readers grow as people. So yes, maybe you can speak openly, candidly with your children about the horrors of drugs and sex, but there are so many others who can't. YOU ARE NOT THE ENTIRE SCHOOL'S / LIBRARY'S PARENT. My mother wrote a letter to my lunch ladies telling them I could only have the meal and nothing from the snack line. She knew them by sight and name. This isn't hard to do, people. Most schools now have swipe/ scan ID cards, and mine was able to block certain things. Like the yummy snack line.

Another thing I don't understand is the banning of positive portrayals of homosexuality, political or religious viewpoints, etc. These are VIEWS, I've not read one book that demands I subscribe to their beliefs. Instead they make me THINK. And thinking is good, last time I heard. Because of all the books I've read, including as a child, middle school and high school student, I've developed a strong self awareness. I know my strengths, and accept my weaknesses even as I try and better myself. And realize that while your protection may actually keep them from harm as children or teens, when they become adults, go off to college, get jobs and move away from you, they will face the real world, and you may have crippled their ability to navigate its tough waters. If you do not believe that will be the case with your own children, then good for you. But remember, not all kids have such great parents as you, and you may be damning them to a harsher existence without the aide and hope the books most commonly challenged could give them.

My main problem with the idea of Banning or Challenging books is the idea of INTOLERANCE at the heart. My life motto "Tolerate everything but Intolerance." An oxymoron? No, not in my mind. I could hate everything a person has to say, but I will not confront them unless they have proven themselves ignorant or intolerant. By intolerance, I mean they refuse to allow whatever they fear or dislike enter their sphere of life in any way. I give you an example:

If you were at an art gallery, and your friend was browsing, looking for a painting to buy, what would you do? Look around, of course. If there are many artists on display, you will have your opinion, those pieces you like and those you don't. Your friend has found and fallen in love with, oh, lets say this painting, Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War), 1936 by Salvador Dali. You hate it. You can't stand it. But your friend loves it. Would you tell them "I hate it, I can't stand it. Its gross, who would want that in their home? They should ban it." No, you probably wouldn't. If you did, frankly you're not much of a friend. But they ask your opinion. Myself, I would say something to the effect of "Its a great mastery of paint, the sky quite well done and realistic. I like the fluidity, the surreal form against the soft, seemingly abstract background. I personally don't like the subject, a little too vulgar for my taste, but I can RESPECT THE ARTIST AND THOSE WHO LOVE HIS WORK."

See what I did there? I gave it credit, I respected the work, and I can appreciate the mastery of the technique. I don't like much of Dali's work myself, but I would never say I hate it and it should be banned. Why? Its a different way of looking at life, a different perspective. I've been in that position, with a print (not that one) of Dali's work a friend so dearly wanted. I was excited for her, not because I liked the painting but because she did. That is what's important. I let her have her opinion and did not think less of her when it didn't coincide with mine.

As in art, so in books.

There should be no reason for intolerance, with books especially. Closed, they cannot speak to those who do not pick them up and open them. If you don't want your kids reading something, fine. But don't force your ideals on other children. A better understanding of sexual orientation, race, political and religious beliefs can lead to greater understanding between everyone. Offensive language? Trust me, your child has heard worse than anything written in YA books. Sex? Your kids know more about it than maybe you do. Kids talk about 'taboo' subjects because you don't want them to, and they're curious. Seriously? Books are not the root of teen pregnancies, shoplifting, drug usage. If you want to stop those things from entering your kids minds, look at what they watch on TV (Gossip Girl?) and the games their playing (Grand Theft Auto anyone?).*

Most of all I just want to know why. Why? Why ban a book entirely from the presence of people who would read and learn from them, whether the author intended a lesson or no? Why is any book so wrong for anyone to read? Some have argued that a book may have been removed from the shelf of one library, but is available in another. So? You have now marked that book for more bans. Just because the government no longer bans books does not mean its not a problem anymore. You are claiming yourself above the ideas in the book, and you are not. No one is above an idea. No one.

Often I see cases where news anchors and advocates of banning books point out the word *fuck* appears 17 times in a book, that sex is described, etc. They fail to put those things in context to the story written around them. Why? Because they don't want to admit those things are valid. That sex may be rape. *Fuck* may have been said by a parent in the story. Let each parent make their own decision, and keep yours to yourself, please, especially if you want to go on a tirade. Because anyways, if you push and/ or succeed in a banning, it only brings whatever book you banned into the public eye, and curious people who may not have read it will do so.

In conclusion, I ask again.

Why Ban the Damn Book?

*Gossip Girl and Grand Theft Auto are fine in my opinion, so long as you TALK WITH YOUR KIDS ABOUT THE CONTENT. Just like with books.

When its Time to Rewrite the Whole Freaking Thing

So, I've been working on revisions the last few days, but you know that nagging thought at the back of my head I mentioned earlier? Yeah, it wouldn't go away. So I had to have another heart to heart with my WIP. It turns out, its a weak little thing that knows it won't make it past a form rejection, and definitely not past a partial.

Alas, I must rewrite the whole thing. From basically scratch. Only three bare boned plot points are staying - the beginning, the climax, and the end. I've been a busy little bee working out how to redo this. I decided it was time I write down every little detail of all my characters, really work on the world building, and do an outline before I get down to actually writing out the scenes.

Problems? Oh, yeah, you know... a BIG one.

Well, it feels big, though I know I know the answer, I just can't yank it out of the ether. Because no matter how gun ho I am about the rewrite, the almost complete change in the flow, the research to ensure my characters and my world are realistic, the PLOT of the last draft still won't DIE. It won't leave me alone! HAUNTING ME! *puts on Evanescence Haunted* I keep trying to fit the last plot in with my current working one. All I've got so far is the first three sentences of the basic outline - as soon as I get past that, it becomes a bastardization of the old plot. Its getting really annoying, I must say.


Why, in the reading of books! I'm taking to reading a bit before bed, and with more influences, I think I may be able to power through this plot pause. In fact, thats how I got the idea for the book to begin with - the meshing of several plots, themes, etc from other books. But I don't mind this terribly, because I still have quite a bit of work to do on the characters and world building. I'm thinking of entering NaNoWriMo this year. Get all the outlining, characters, etc done and then hopefully zoom through the new first draft in November. Here's hoping I actually sign up!

For you writers out there - how do you get through plot holes? Have you ever had to do a major rewrite? How did you get past the old plot and work out a new one?

Response to: Young Adult Science Fiction Is Getting More Pessimistic, Less Scientific

The lovely @robinwasserman pointed this morning to a quote on the Young Adult Science Fiction genre, Young Adult Science Fiction is Getting More Pessimistic, Less Scientific. The link will show you the whole quote, but here it is as well, posted by  Charlie Jane Anders:

"[In] the Golden Age... there was an emphasis on writing for young people, to essentially hook them and get them excited about the genre, so they would become lifelong science fiction readers. And in those works, juveniles written by people like Heinlein and Asimov and Andre Norton and such, there was this sense that technology was good. Part of this was because many of these authors were trained as scientists themselves, engineers [or] physicists. There was the idea — a sense of wonder — that young people could grow up in to this new technological world and really change it and make it their own. And so even the ones that seemed negative in some ways — for example Robert Heinlein's Starman Jones was a story that had a very negative view of the way the Earth was developing, people couldn't get into jobs they wanted unless they were essentially born into a family that held one of those jobs. There was little advancement... but because space was out there, a young man could go out there — and in this case, most of the time it was a young man — and make his way. And that negative view of how things might turn out was in fact just the spark the heroic character needed to light a fire under him and motivate him to go out and make his own way. And actually, in the end, change the world.
"And some of the things I see now, particularly in science fiction juveniles, are of a different character. And part of that I think is because the authors writing them are not trained in the sciences, they're trained in the humanities. And they are looking back at the legacy of what science is doing, has done, on everything from environmental issues to questions of weaponry and warfare, and they're sort of taking stock of this, and I wouldn't say necessarily that it's all pessimism, but you don't see the same sense of wonder balanced in the same way. It's become more self-critical, particularly in these works that are hitting the, say, 14 to 18 year old readers and bringing them into the genre for the first time." — Professor Amy Sturgis, interviewed by NPR station WFPL for "The Subversive Side Of Science Fiction" (Full podcast at link). [via Geekend]

And now, my response. I tried leaving a comment, but you have to jump through hoops to be able to do so.

Science has grown exponentially, to a point where some areas have hit a temporary stalemate. Consider that the human race has made more breakthroughs in technology and science in the last 5, 10 years than in the last 5,000. Sci Fi writers of the past could imagine ahead a world of technology as a dawning of the greatness of man far easier than we can now, for that very reason. They weren't advancing as much as we are today, when we measure tech progress in days and weeks, not months or years. This, I believe, is the main root of this supposed pessimistic shift of sci fi today, not the lack of science training for writers.

Some of the many YA Sci Fi books I've read are post-Apocalyptic, but its the survival beyond that thats heartening. As an avid reader of YA Sci Fi, and an aspiring YA writer myself, I don't see a presence of negativity in the new teen protagonists, I see them overcome the loss of technology, the determination to rebuild their world. Just as with Asimov, negativity from outside is what spurs the characters on, but in a different direction - towards a unity of society.

And frankly, this overall generalization is disturbing. The quote reads that this woman, Amy Sturgis, may not be carefully reading the books she doesn't actually name. Where are the examples of general negativity in the characters? Where is the pessimism of the future? Why would we ignore the hurts our Scientific Progress has done to the planet we call home? Why would we be held in awe by new technology, instead of asking what more damage will it do to the world? Self-critical is also called caution, its a way of becoming more self aware. Being trained in science or humanities doesn't have a bearing here - its what we do with science that directs the world. And its how the youth of our imagined futures deals with it that is the most insightful - they aren't as influential as the adults that run the world, and so they MUST act and react with the world the best they know how.

Science without humanity can and often is deadly, as we've seen in history, and this is what authors are pointing at, whether by will or no.

Books, as in science and technology, must evolve with the times, and on a more superficial level, the wonder that the good Professor says is lacking is mainly due to the lack of newness of the new technology. Its expected now, rather than hoped for. History is cyclical, and again we are trying to become more aware of ourself as a people, a society. Its the sign of the ages, and thats what writers write about.

A Spoonful of Sugar Does Actually Help the Medicine Go Down

On Sunday I finally admitted to myself why I hadn't done any transcribing of my WIP for a week.

I finally said aloud that my main character, Bertrand, was too perfect.

He grew up in an upper middle class loving family with supportive parents and best friends for sisters. Perfectly shy but still friendly, with everyone from the stable boy to the freaking King wanting to be his friend. He makes strong lasting friendships that border on reverence, tells his secrets to only the ones who would never reveal them, and somehow always knows exactly the right thing to do at the right time.

But who wants to read about a seventeen year old guy who's the final word in morality?

So I needed to go back and basically rewrite the whole damn thing. I didn't want to, not because of the work, but because, well... I didn't want to admit that my first draft wasn't brilliant. Yeah, I knew a few revisions and edits would be inevitable, but deep down I knew. I knew I actually thought this story would be a Masterpiece, the Next Big Thing since Harry Potter or Twilight.

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

However, I still didn't want to actually restart. I needed an incentive. I needed something to make the medicine of reality taste just a little bit sweeter. Which could very conveniently be found in my freezer.

And that made it so much easier. Sugar can make any difficult task so much more enjoyable. I've been really getting some work done, and I feel cautiously confident in my new draft. I'm back at my early morning routine, feeling out the character revisions and getting to know the "new and improved" Bertrand. I'm so happy writing again too - I feel like my life had gone all wacky and lopsided the week I didn't do any writing work, and now its all okay

Its Been a While...

I haven't blogged in a while, and neither have I written. My WIP sat languishing in its journals, no words typed in the computer for the last week. At first I thought I had just burnt myself out during #wordathon, an awesome Twitter hashtag that pushes writers to get words out or edit the ones they had already written. But then yesterday it dawned on me, horribly and with little warning.

There were major problems with my plot. And my characters.

I became extremely discouraged, scared that the work I had done was for nothing, that I would have to abandon this story because there was no way for it to work. But with some great encouragement from the #amwriting tweeps, I found the problem that, when fixed, would strengthen my novel as a whole. It was my Main Character, and even some of the others as well. Some were too perfect, dull and lifeless. Yes, they were probably people I had met or would meet in my life, people who generally seem to have a good, cheerful life. But who wants to read about them? I need to give my MC, and a few of the lesser protagonists, difficulties beyond the external ones they face in the story. So I began working up a new personality for the MC last night, and vowed to myself I would return to my daily writing schedule: wake up at 7:30am, take ADD meds, get coffee, check Twitter, then once I felt the meds and coffee kick in, start writing.

But that wasn't how it happened. My husband let the cat out of her room, so as soon as I opened my bedroom door she was behind me, trying to climb up my legs. The coffee pot has a sizable crack along its side. I find this out by the water pouring out the wrong end. Thankfully, I have a spare coffee maker. Only we're out of filters. I go to Walgreens. I get back, let my three dogs in, feed the cat on the dining room table, the highest she can go to get away from the dogs. Only Pepper, the middle dog, has learned how to jump from window sill to chair to table, and has been eating the kittens food when I shut myself in my office. I let the cat into my office and feed her there. Then she thinks its okay to suckle my lip while kneading my boobs, neck and face with her claws. And she wouldn't stop, even with reprimanding her with the spray bottle. I have 10 claw marks, just from today, one of them pretty deep. Then I try calling my husband at work, only his phone is turned off. And when he does finally call me back, its with bad new about our impending move to New York City. Or rather, its no longer in our foreseeable future. Crap.

I'm depressed. My New York dream may never happen, because I was stupid and insisted we buy a house only a year after our marriage. I'm only 23 for f*cks sake! I'm a drifter, I like to move, travel, see new places. But no. I had to buy into the "American Dream" and that we could afford the mortgage on a house so early on was bait. Now we're stuck. I'm pissed at myself. I'm so unhappy. We both hate Texas heat, but yet we're still here. I feel trapped, and we can't sell the house yet because part of the roof needs to be fixed, there are drill wholes needing to be filled, carpet to replace, etc etc etc. Even if we can fix the broken stuff and sell the house, we can't do that until the end of next summer, because we'll lose money. And with the expenses of fixing and selling the house, we won't be able to afford moving.

I'm sorry. I know I'm ranting. My husband, whom I love for trying, always comes off blasé about, well, anything. He's really even tempered, which makes me feel like a complete *ss whenever I get bent out of shape about this stuff. And with all this happening on the day I was supposed to luxuriate in my writing, I can't concentrate anymore. I don't even remember what I've been thinking about the last few hours. My day is ruined, and I hate being depressed. I want to cry. I can't even write it away.

We May Be Novices But We Aren't Stupid

This morning I read a lovely post by Rachelle Gardner at her blog, which you can find here, about Advances on a book one would sell. It was to the point, kind, and informative. As I was reading the comments, someone dropped a link to another blog, by Joe Quirk, titled Authors: Just say "No!" to your advance.

And while he does make some good points, a few of which Rachelle did as well, his blog was more of a rant, belittling, rude, and crass. Here are some quotes directly from the blog, and my interpretation. But first, some backstory, which he himself provides.

Joe Quirk is a published author of four books and goes through Numina Press, a print-on-demand publisher. Print-on-demand publishers do just as they say- they only print once an order has been made, and normally only the amount that has been ordered, which basically means the authors do get more money in royalties. This is not to say I am for print-on-demand, simply some facts. Then he lists the objections traditionally published authors would make:

Your choice, living authors. Take home:
$1.50 from a $23 book, or
$4.50 from a $16 book.
Wait. You have to give up a lot of perks for this tripling of your pay, and my living author friends are quick to list their objections:
Big New York publishers will give me an advance!
Big New York publishers will get me publicity!
Big New York publishers will pay for a book tour!
Big New York publishers will get me book store placement!
But if I accept triple money with a print-on-demand publisher, Big New York publishers will punish me! My agent will be mad!
Okay, stop flapping your wrists like a pack of sissies. Let's walk through each of the standard fear-driven objections one by one.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/jquirk/detail?entry_id=46347&o=1#ixzz0QvQS7m4N
So right off the bat, he has something against the "Big New York Publishers." Huh. We'll see were that goes later on.
An advance is a chance to ruin your career. A big advance for a first or second book is a chance to almost guarantee your career will end six months after your book comes out, and nobody will tell you until you write and try to sell your second book. A gigunda advance? That spells an almost certain death.
The bigger the advance, the worse it is for the author.
I do not agree with the first sentence. I do however, concede with the last one. A gigantic advance can derail a new authors career, because there's more pressure to earn out the advance, meaning more books have to be sold, which is much harder for a new author than for one who has written several novels and developed a faithful following of readers.
Seventy percent of published books don't earn back their advance. Add to the balance sheet the costs of printing, shipping, and promotion, and that means even more than 70% of books lose money for the publisher. That means the majority of published authors get a permanent Big Red Mark next to their name.
I have nothing to say about this quote, but a question to ask: Where did he get this information? I saw nowhere were Joe could direct me to the hard facts, he just gave them to us. Have you heard that pun that says "37% of statistics are made up on the spot"? Yeah, thats what I thought too.
Publishers don't know why most books don't sell, nor do they understand why most of their riches are made off less than 5% of the new authors they publish, and they don't know what to do about their ignorance, but they do know how to do one thing: blame the author.
If your first book lost them money, they will not publish your second book, no matter how many copies it sold.
So move on to another publisher? Not so fast. Publishers share sales information with their competitors. That's right, competing New York publishers close ranks in solidarity against the authors who might have sold well but lost money. Most major publishers, before they read your new book, run straight to the stats and see how well your last book sold, how much money was spent on it, how much was earned back, and their eyes go straight to the bottom line: Did it lose money? If the answer is yes, they don't waste their time reading your new book.
And what's wrong with that? Would an employer read your resume and not call your previous employer to see if you actually did a good job? The same plays here. I will confess I don't know much about the process from first to second book, but I'm almost certain that this instance he's describing is not an absolute. This business requires subjectivity.
Because the industry-- the publicists and publishers who say they love you and your work-- pushes the blame for their crap-ass expensive publicity decisions onto the author, who had nothing to do with it. 
The author doesn't control the expenses. The publisher does. Yet the only thing that works in the trickle-down theory is the trickle-down theory of blame.
This is were Joe starts getting on my nerves. He's angry. I get that, but I don't get why until a little later. Next he talks more about what Advances actually are.
It ain't free money, ladies. It's a loan. It's an advance against royalties. What happens to your "credit rating" when you don't pay it back? 
The bad boys come to break your legs. You've heard of "legs" in the entertainment industry? My first book had legs. The damn thing is still jogging after more than a decade, but I don't get any money for it, and neither does my publisher. It's making money for all those used-books pirates selling it through the platform that amazon provides for them.
So, the guy who doesn't have room for the books he won't read again, or the family thats having a garage sale to find the money for the crib they need for the baby their having, or hell the freaking LIBRARIES that buy your book so underprivileged communities can enjoy them without a fee, they're all PIRATES, are they? And this is where you can tell that our lovely Joe has been burned.
The only thing harder that being an unpublished unknown trying to convince an agent to glance at your manuscript is being a bestselling author who didn't pay back his advance. Better the "slush pile" than the Red Name on the balance sheet. The "slush pile" is purgatory, and most writers reside their forever. The Red Name on the balance sheet is hell, and it's eternal.
You know what the "slush pile" is, right? It's your publisher's name for your manuscript. Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Isn't that funny? You don't make art! You make slush!
Actually, quite a lot of us do write slush. It takes time and patience to hone the craft of writing, and even longer to create a novel that an agent feels compelled to represent. We get it. Its hard to break in. As for the "slush pile" dig, well, those are unsolicited queries, and as everyone knows or can guess, agents get a LOT of those. But then, how the hell are we ever gonna get those agents to read our works? Slush is not a derogatory comment to much of the writing that is found in that pile, its just the sheer number in it. Or at least, thats how I choose to take it.
When you get giddy because these folks bestow an advance upon your slush, you're admitting that you don't have faith your book will sell. When your agent sticks that carrot in front of your nose, and your eyes well up with joyful tears, your heart is saying:
"Now I get paid even if I don't sell books! How nice of my major NY publisher to take all the financial risk! No wonder they're called Saint Martins!"
Some of you poets and authors spend so much time thinking deep thoughts you can't figure out a basic business arrangement. The publisher is giving you a loan against money you haven't earned yet, and if you don't pay it back, the publisher will not forget this. The publisher is taking a short-term financial risk while making sure the author takes a longer-term risk of career catastrophe.
Now this is were I start getting a little pissed. The text that I've bolded so graciously for you all is were he starts making fun of us more insistently, and thats unnecessary. What he fails to realize, and to acknowledge of himself in his past (we'll see that later), is the amount of faith we have in our manuscripts to actually SEND THEM OUT to agents, knowing we'll get a fistful of form rejections in the fervent hope of getting an acceptance to have the novel represented. But it is true that the publisher is taking a small monetary risk in the face of a writers career risk. A catastrophe? I don't think so. A fluke? More likely. And if another publisher loved the book that didn't earn out, then they may give the author a second chance, albeit with a lower print run and advance. Not earning out is not the end of the road, just a speed bump, in varying sizes.
I've received advances everywhere from $255,000 (from Saintly Martins) to $1,000 (from Skorpion, my Croatian publisher, who at least chooses an honest name. If I founded a publishing house based on the NY business model, I'd call it Rat Snake Press).
255K to 1K? What's going on? Am I a big shot or a shlump?
Answer: shlump.
What drives an advance? 
Fear by the publisher that their competitor will get the book. Period. Publishers pay large advances to outbid other publishers from getting their claws on what might be the Next Big Thing. It has to do with pre-publication panic. It's got nothing to do with being nice to you. If publishers wanted to be nice to you, they wouldn't start your career placing you in debt to them.
Aaahhh. NOW we get to the gist of his angst. He's pissed! He's been burned! Saintly Martins trusted in his first novel so much, wanted it before their competitors got to it, and then it bombed! How shocking. NOT. Throughout the article Joe Quirk is snooty, callus, and bitchy. And this is why. But this is a business, like so many others that have to hedge their bets to get a head start. So were is he ranting about the hairdresser who has to take a loan to start her own salon?
Next time your publisher offers you an advance, turn it down. Earn your money by selling books. Why should you get money up front? Stop paying back huge loans from your big NY publisher with small espressos. See if your book is good enough to get accepted at a commercial print-on-demand publisher, and set up a relationship with your readers. They pay enough for a music CD; you get a sandwich. No bets, no debts.
He offers nothing else but the option to turn down an advance. Why? Why not accept a modest advance instead, insist on it? Furthermore, this is something you should be discussing with your AGENT. They are the ones who can lay down the facts. And quite frankly, a print-on-demand publisher isn't for everyone. Again, something to discuss with your agent, if that is a route you are considering. Like I stated above, you can read the whole blog and make your own opinions. Here's the link in its entirety. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/jquirk/detail?entry_id=46347&o=1

What bothered me about Joe Quirks article was not that he took a stand, but that he did so by talking down to his readers and making fun of traditionally published authors. He gave his opinion, but insisted we take his side. He didn't comment objectively on the practices of both types of publishing. He ranted. And as a best selling author, I feel he needed to be calm, cool and collected even as he sided against taking advances, or going with a print-on-demand publisher.

Rachelle Gardner, on the other hand, warns if there is snark in her blogposts, apologizes if she inadvertently insulted someone, and is generally even keeled in her blog. She gives advise, says "I think" if it is in fact her own opinion, and directs her readers to their own agents for all the information they would need. Most of all she is kind.

And in a business that is all about subjectivity, about whether an agent or publisher likes your book, kindness is very welcome, and being mean for the sake of being mean, or because you're pissed, is uncalled for.

Have your own thoughts on the matter? Drop me a comment!

Surprise, Surprise

It seems all so simple, but I guess sometimes simplicity makes us overlook certain options.

Yesterday, and for the last week, I'd been having trouble wanting to work on transcribing and revising/ editing my WIP. I found all kinds of distractions, but always the nagging voice of my tired muse would remind me that I should be typing. But I didn't want to. I became lethargic, uncaring and even a little angry, both at myself and my muse. Somehow nothing I typed seemed right, new words even less so. I didn't even want to blog, thats how bad it was. And it felt like cheating if I tweeted. But then I realized the root of my guilt for not wanting to write.

I was MAKING myself feel guilty.

Everyone needs a break now and then, and its encouraged between drafts for authors. It gives us space and objectivity, coming at it fresh and ready to pounce on the words, scenes or even characters that are unnecessary. My muse was making me feel guilty because I hadn't given her permission for a breather, so she kept badgering me even though she was in no shape to go on.

I needed to explain to myself and my muse that ITS OKAY TO RELAX.

And we did. I started rereading Hunger Games, so I can fully appreciate Catching Fire. I let myself enjoy playing some online games, and went to sleep early. And do you know what? IT FELT GREAT. I woke up excited to write again, eager to get to my journal and laptop and fix the scene I needed to change. I was still groggy, but I made my coffee, hurriedly fed and watered Office Kitteh, Window Doggeh, Begging Doggeh, and Afraid of Office Kitteh Doggeh, and rushed out to my writing cave in the garage. And I'm HAPPY. Cheerful, even.

I've also decided that I'll stop working at 1pm, and read, play games, watch TV, anything I want to do so long as its relaxing. This way, I hopefully won't fall into the pit of "meh" like before.

Real Life Getting Me Down

Nothing horrific has happened- no deaths, no accidents, nothing bad.

I'm just not feeling it.

Every day for the past week or so it takes SO MUCH out of me to get just 1,000 words transcribed. I daydream, play games online, chat on twitter, and do various mindless activities. I haven't even blogged for a whole week, and I know its because the words aren't coming. Its difficult to make myself type this now, but I want to because you, my readers, are wondering what the hell happened to me. Or not, but I'm pretending you guys are concerned.

I'm guessing I didn't take a big enough break between my pre first draft in longhand to transcribing my WIP to my MacBook. I only read one book (which was amazing) before starting to type up the words. That may or may not be the culprit, or it could be the late nights of game playing, or just plain restlessness. I'm worried I may kill my muse if I work her too hard, but I don't want to give up.

I think I need a vacation. I don't work, so I mean I just wanna go to a different location other than my hometown. A Writers Retreat, if you will, even if its just me. Even if I don't actually get much writing done, I think the change of scenery and pace will really help me out.

But for now, I sit at my desk, doing this:

@WritingSpirit on Twitter just posted this, which has made me feel slightly better in leaving my WIP for a bit: The more you relax and enjoy life, the more focused and productive you are when you write.