Friday, October 29, 2010

E-Publishing and Procrastination

I swear, if procrastination was an illegal drug a lot of writers would be found in back alleys begging for another hit. What’s my point? Well, my procrastination has lead me to some research and we’re on the cusp of an amazing opportunity, and as writers, we’re all too smart to be so dumb. It’s like going back in time and having the chance to buy Apple stock at $10 a share, and it’s relative. Are you going to bite?

I’m talking about e-publishing. I know, I know, you want to scream: “technology sucks!” and run around with your hands over your ears, but Sweetie, just take a deep breath, unhitch those panties from your clenched cheeks and feel the opportunity that’s breezing by. The profession of e-publishing is so young, there aren’t even standardized guidelines yet to follow while submitting to publishers, and the amount of books being downloaded each day is building with incredible speed. Another biggie is “vanity” has been removed from the idea of self-publishing, so the ability to self e-publish I predict is soon going to be all the rage.

The big question is how many books will be polished and standout as “wonderful” or “brilliant” among the masses? Most writers will assume because “they” think their work is perfect, so will the world… but we already know what the real answer is. So now you may be asking “Okay, where do I start?” Well, when you feel your manuscript is ready, find a literary consultant like BubbleCow who can “provide professional copy editing with manuscript assessment, book proposal advice and writer mentoring”. Oh come on! Don’t roll your eyes and think I’m not talking to you. If you’ve ever been serious about being a “successful” writer, whether submitting to a publisher or e-publishing on Amazon, you need professional feedback before it’s out there no matter how good you are. And if you didn’t know it, then “high-five”, you just learned something really important!

So, am I saying some of us brilliant storytellers can be complete idiots towards the business side of writing? Yeap. For all kinds of bizarre reasons we’ve been scared of loving “the business side” of the publishing world and have spent valuable time and opportunities procrastinating instead of showing the tenacity we all are capable of. That has to change. If you’re now wondering what genres specifically will do well with e-publishing, the answer is all of them. As a writer of middle grade and young adult, I thought about children’s books and the possibility that parents won’t want children reading electronically. Then I thought of the built-in dictionary and pronunciation capability, to tap on a word they don’t understand and learn without even realizing they are learning… Yes, every genre is going to be successful in e-publishing.

During my own procrastination, while I should have been doing rewrites, I’ve logged about 100 hours searching through and reading articles and press releases on e-publishing and you know what? This is REALLY-FUN-MAKE-YOU-WANT-TO-SAY-“YES-YES-YES!” EXCITING STUFF! In fact it’s so exciting I’m working successfully everyday now on my rewrites. Have I sold you on it yet?

Come on, think about it. In our lifetime, we’ve been pioneers to so many things - cable TV, really high heels, cell phones, tattoo eyeliner, fantasy football teams, and the list goes on and on. The biggest of the biggies for me and probably you is pioneering the personal computer with, wait for it…. Google. Five years ago I was seriously apprehensive of going on Google. “Why would someone just give away all that information?”… Now it’s a daily necessity in my life. Imagine what writers back in the 80’s must have thought when they were first told to put down their typewriters, dictionary’s and whiteout correction tape and plug in a computer. “Evil! No way! It’s so cold and business-like, I couldn’t possibly be creative with one of those machines in my house!” I think you get the idea, and it doesn’t take much of a leap to see e-books will be a normal part of peoples lives in just a few years.

What’s the next step? Inform yourself and all the writers you know…(or at least the ones you like). Some of us are going to be at the forefront of the new way of selling books, and you know what? I want to be one of them. Here is a starter list of must read articles, twitter addresses and links to really smart people who know what they’re "e-talking" about. Please drop me a note with any questions you have or great information you find. I’m at and I’ll be linking related articles on twitter daily to make e-publishing easier to understand.


**Konrath E-Book Sales Top 100K**

**#1 Epublishing Business Model**

**How To Publish Your Book On Kindle And iPad**

**E-Book Revolution**

** Elgan: Why book publishing needs the Silicon Valley way**

**Kindle Singles: Big Opportunity For Smart Writers**

**Video link/ Toddler Prefers iPad Over Print Book**

**Alice Pope’s Wednesday Tweet Roundup**



@writersdigest @JaneFriedman

@angelajames @bubblecow

@glecharles (Guy L. Gonzalez) @40kbooks

@inkwelleditor @AlicePope

@toc (Tools of Change) @nickbilton (Nick Bilton)

@inkyelbows and @ipadgirl @danblank (Dan Blank)

@andrewsavikas (Andrew Savikas) @kirkbiglione (Kirk Biglione)


Friday, August 6, 2010

The Trouble With Writers

Wait, let me rephrase that...the trouble with fiction writers.

We're everywhere, some are well known, some mention it here or there, and many hide their writing-side away like an embarrassing fetish. We talk to people who aren't real, (only living in our heads), and we scold ourselves for not being brilliant enough. Then we work and rework our words and ideas until we think they're great... then many of us shove them in a drawer.

Insecurity seems to be an underlining feeling in most creative writers. Do we create worlds where we make all the rules because of it? Or do we feel insecure because all our emotions are heightened and insecurity just happens to be an easy one to identify with?

Right now many of you are thinking "ahh, she gets me"... but is it actually the other way around and do you get what I'm saying because another part of your complex intellect holds strong with connecting to others? I think you see what I'm getting at. Writers can drive themselves crazy wondering why they think the way they do and why they want and/or need to write.

Now, with how the publishing world is changing, we also get to throw a whole lot of extra technical "unknowns" into the pot with our already amplified emotions.
1) More writers are submitting and less books are being printed right?

2) e-publishing is like a big baby that won't stop screaming, and like new parents we don't know whether to stay up all night singing and dancing or give it Tylenol and hope it goes to sleep and doesn't bother us for awhile.

3) The world is becoming smaller and connecting with professionals in the publishing world is very easy...which can be scary.

With that said, I want to remind you of some other things about us "troubled" writers.

1) We refuse to be minions. We are not going to think the ways others may want us to or suggest we do unless it makes sense to us.

2) I believe we were born with our heightened emotions for a reason... and it's the same reason most of us have learned how to type really fast!

3) Writing is an ART. We are artists. We are good at what we do because of our emotions and imaginations.

So why not look forward to the new e-publishing ways? Maybe it will be easier. Maybe not. I do think it's worth jumping in and seeing where it takes us, because it's not going away.

So if adventurous isn't an emotion you normally allow out, we can be adventurous together researching online. Let me know if you find any good info and I'll do the same...

...then later we can talk about maybe changing out of pajama's and maybe going outside other then when it's required.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Grammatically Naughty Twitter?

2 B or not 2 B, that is the ?

(...what the *%#@*?)

I’m pretty sure Shakespeare never wrote the famous line from Hamlet in shortcut form. Not even if the brilliant line came to him while he was walking home after drinking all night at The Anchor Inn. I just can’t picture him pulling out his quill, inkpot, and parchment paper and scribbling down in Twitter text.

Why is it thinking up clever ways to fit in the “140” characters that is “Twitter,” has somehow created an instant forgiveness of how we write? Plus, when did our thoughts become so important they MUST be sent out instantly to our followers regardless of content or errors?

Don’t misunderstand me, I LOVE Twitter and I must admit I even love writing in grammatically incorrect form sometimes...

…It makes me feel naught!

And since my nickname years ago was “By the Book Jane”, feeling naughty over grammar, as you can guess is about as wild as I get.

But, the questions I want answered are:

1) “What will the long-term effects of “140” character thoughts create”?

2) In a few years will “140” seem like too many characters to spend time reading?

3) Besides the beauty of the written word, is there anything else we are chancing to lose with the leaps and bounds of technical communication?

I’m not saying short is bad; obviously there are many examples of brilliantly written, short works. I am saying in my humble opinion, (or IMHO as some of you short-cutters will recognize,) that with the snowballing affect Twitter is having on our lives I hope it can work towards a love of writing and literature where there once was none.

Maybe I’m a hopeless romantic, but I'm thinking, if just one percent of twitter users who normally wouldn’t pick up a book become inspired to read a classic novel, then I think even Shakespeare would give his okay to the written shortcuts. And if anyone deserves to give the okay on shortcut writing, it would be Shakespeare and all the people who in their lifetimes could only express their words with quills and inkpots.

In the meantime, I’m going to keep looking to the amazing Debbie Ohi and the brilliant and fabulous Jane Friedman for savvy guidance to all things technical.

ps: If you have not had the pleasure of reading the “To be or not to be” scene in its entirety, here it is from Wikipedia.


William Shakespeare

act three, scene one.

To be or not to be– that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
 and, by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep
 No more – and by a sleep to say we end
 the heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to – ‘tis a consummation Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub, 
 for in that sleep of death what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, 
 must give us pause. There's the respect that makes calamity of so long life. For who would bear the whips and scorns of time, 
Th’ oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely, The pangs of despised love, the law's delay, The insolence of office, and the spurns That patient merit of th’ unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear, To grunt and sweat under a weary life, But that the dread of something after death, 
 The undiscovered country from whose bourn No traveler returns, puzzles the will And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of? 
 Thus conscience does make cowards of us all, And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought, 
 And enterprises of great pitch and moment With this regard their currents turn awry, 
 And lose the name of action.—Soft you now! The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons be all my sins remembered.

Vi ses Darlings!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Today the dishes are piled in the sink. The same load of clean towels, messy and unfolded is in the laundry basket as it was yesterday. The mail and scribbled notes are piled on the kitchen counter. I am on the sofa, sitting in silence after reading another personalized, encouraging rejection.

I hear the dehumidifier’s rhythmic hum and wonder why I don’t have a simple “on” switch. Right now I want to bring physical order. I want to work hard. I’m still sitting here.

Birds chirp as they build their springtime nests outside the windows I thought about washing two weeks ago. Neighbors pass by with their dogs charging forward, living to please. I’m still sitting. My husband is in a meeting, working hard. My son is in school, working hard. Everyone I know is working hard. I am sitting.

Writing often re-opens a scab in my thoughts. I think “this time it won’t hurt,” but then it’s ripped off and leaves me raw again. I try to heal, but creativity is a silent addiction. I don’t want to be this way. Why can’t I have an “off” switch?

In writing, there are no absolutes. There are only interpretations. Being good isn’t enough. Being great only gets you so far. Being brilliant is necessary.

Brilliance is then flung out like a handful of pick-up-sticks. Maybe I’ll win the game this time. Maybe the beautiful, hand-carved sticks will land in a slush pile and never be touched again…

I reach for the laundry basket.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

An Imperfect Life

This morning I sent my fourth grader off to camp for three days and came home to find my otherwise perfect dog had pooped on the family room rug. Then, for the first time while feeding my two parakeets, one flew out of the cage, hit the living room window and died a few moments later. This was all before 8:00 am.

I have a good life. I say my prayers with true thanksgiving; I happily kiss my husband every night, and I am proud of the time I spend with my son and how I’m raising him. So why is it, in a matter of minutes I went from thinking about enjoying a few nights alone with my husband to contemplating the effects of death? It didn’t take long to hear the familiar voice in my head.

“Because this IS life, sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not. Life is learning, dealing, teaching, helping, working, and enjoying. Not all at the same time, not all everyday.”

I hear his voice in my head when I want to, and sometimes when I don’t want to, but need to. Some people call it the voice of reason, or one’s conscience. My sister Linda and I believe it’s our connection with source energy. Whatever you choose to believe it is, one thing remains the same.

Each one of us has an entire world wrapped up inside a skin-covered package. Each one of us is as important as the next. For years now I’ve made a habit of showing it in ways like the below:

I smile at the cashier working the drive-thru window, and I mean it when I say thank you. She could have a sick child or parent at home.

I let the guy driving way too fast pass me; he could have just gotten a call from the hospital with bad news. His plan is not to enrage me personally.

I respectfully hold the door open for older people even when they move slowly. I think about how fast the world must seem to them now, and realize I may be the only kind stranger they have seen in days.

I listen to children the same as adults. Their stories may not have experience behind them, but their feelings are just as deep as yours and mine.

While I kissed my ten-year-old goodbye this morning, I felt nervous that he’d be away for three days. A few minutes later I felt angry as I stepped in a pile of poop, then a few minutes after that, I felt sorrowful as I picked up my favorite bird for the last time and stroked his lifeless body.

Like I said before, I know I have a good life, and I realize bad things happen. Right now, I’m reminding myself that “good” does not mean, “perfect”.

I will be thankful for all the good things in my own imperfect life.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Confessions of a timid writer

Most writers I know crave alone time because when it gets down to it, we never have any…well physically maybe, but never mentally. Our heads are a sort of continuous cocktail party of very old friends and many new acquaintances that insist on dazzling us with their impressive back-stories.

Fellow writers totally know what I’m talking about. Non-writers have no idea and think I’m just a couple “ticks” away from being committed.

What really annoys me is when I’m reminded that real people like to go outside. Or that it’s not normal to sit in pajamas all day. Oh, the things I have to put up with. Don’t they know it’s a scientific fact that creative energy flows more freely in soft, pink, cotton pajamas? (Well, maybe not a proven fact yet, but I’m sure it could be.)

Years ago when I decided to make a true effort as a full time writer I felt very alone. It took a lot of courage to stand up and say:

“My name is Jane and I am an out of the closet writer.”

My husband and sister always knew and encouraged me. Yet I instantly felt overwhelmed by my complete lack of “top-secret-insider-knowledge” and incredibly brash for thinking I deserved to know.

Now, after years of reading and researching, I’m happy to say, I’ve found out the really important things aren’t actually “top-secret-insider-stuff”.

1) Believe in yourself. If you don’t think you can be a success, how will you convince respected agents and editors to?

2) Successful writers, editors, and agents like to help new writers who work hard, listen, and use their valuable advice.

3) The top writers, editors, and agents are passionate, caring and NEVER stop working hard.

4) Make sure your work is polished before submitting. It’s been said a million times before and once again here: you only get one shot at making a first impression.

With that said, it’s important to realize there aren’t many industries where you can jump in headfirst and find dozens of powerful people willing to dive in after you saying “Weeee!” But I found that’s exactly what happened when I threw my insecurities aside and signed up for an Editor’s Intensive at Writer’s Digest. I didn’t have anyone to go with so I put my big-girl pants on and went all by myself. Afterward, I took every bit of advice handed to me, used it and am still amazed at how valuable the weekend was.

Since I’m a writer of young adult books, I attended the SCBWI conference. On my own I may have thought about going, or dreamed about going, but it would have probably ended there. Yet with a prominent editor looking me in the eye at the WD editors intensive saying “You have to go”, I knew I couldn’t just think about it, I had to actually go. So, I put another pair of big-girl pants on and went to New York alone for five days. I’m 42 years old, I used to travel for work, and yet I was downright terrified of attending the SCBWI conference alone…crazy? More like too timid. The previously discussed “tick” was getting more defined in my mind.

Well, that weekend made it clear there was nothing to fear but much to celebrate. I walked away reminding myself to spend lots of time writing, (you have to start with lots of writing) and then spend lots of time rewriting. Ask all your questions at the right time aimed toward the right people, and really hear and follow the answers.

If you’ve never been one for writer’s groups, give it a try. Or if your experience was negative, try again, and don’t be afraid of on-line writers groups. Technology is not scary, in fact you HAVE to be technically active now, and once you start you’ll see how wonderful it is.

For on-line insight from some top-notch, well respected people in the industry, check out:

Please let me know how you’re doing or if you have any questions because I’m pretty sure that together, and with enough snacks, we can accomplish just about anything.

Join me at: if you want to hear more.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Etiquette Without Eye Contact

It used to be if one had a question regarding general etiquette, one would turn to a hardcover copy of Emily Post's wisdom. Boy, how things have changed.

Not only have the most simple forms of proper etiquette become somehow "unnecessary", somewhere along the way new forms began popping up because of technology. Interestingly, I find that the old ways, if never allowed to be dismissed, would have served our electronic communicative ways just fine from the beginning.

It's true that what we write on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs is out in the world forever. Adults and children alike are learning to be careful and not say anything "inappropriate". We also need to prevent the lack of eye contact from giving us a license for rudeness.

So, in case any of you have forgotten, or are too young to have learned, here are a couple of "oldies but goodies" when it comes to etiquette.

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

Constructive criticism is very different from cruel criticism. Never be cruel.

Wait your turn.

Don't talk more than you listen.

Say 'please' and 'thank you'.

If something is worth doing, it's worth doing right, (take pride in your work).

'Please' leave a comment if you'd like, and 'thank you' for reading!

Monday, March 15, 2010

My first blog... I promised myself I wouldn't have a blog. I reminded myself of my promise. Yet, here I am.

I figured since nobody has to read this, I might as well let some of the voices out of my head and place them here. The "voices", as many can relate to, are characters I've begun writing about and others, (many others) that I've yet to bring forward to my frontal lobe. My education is in neurological psychology so I actually do know a little about "lobes", not that anyone should care. Back in college, my favorite professor, Dr. Richard Sax suggested I switch my major to creative writing. I unfortunately wasn't smart enough to listen to him.

Apparently one can know things about lobes without actually using them to their full potential.

With all the blogs out there, I have found some amazingly helpful people. If you're a new writer also, don't be afraid to join in. Most professional writers are like the nice kids on the playground. You know, the ones who yell over to the new kid: "Hey, you wanna come play with us?" And then they smile, and act like the've known the new kid for years.

That's all for now, and in the voice of some unknown kid on the playground:

Here's a list of some great writers/editors.