Sunday, July 28, 2013

Space-filling Funny :)

Because, in all honesty, I just haven't had time to write on here, and this cracked me up.

So, I share a funny:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Is it in the Way You Look at It? (My Updated Thoughts on The Cuckoo's Calling, JK Rowling, and Marketing Stunts)

I did something yesterday that I have never done before. I deleted a published blog post. I had posted some of my thoughts on the whole JK Rowling is Robert Galbraith thing. If you don't know about this story...

The NY Times shares some of my suspicions that this was a publicity stunt. My blog post took things a little farther and called JK Rowling careless because she was basically playing a game pretending to be a new writer and it hurt.

My point was that she was taking for granted something that any new, struggling, and/or aspiring author would hold of the utmost value.

But I realized--I was making a judgement call on JK Rowling's actions. I don't know where she, personally, is coming from. I can guess she's at a stage in her career where the overwhelming fame brought by the Harry Potter books has her doubting if she could cut it on her writing alone. Maybe she's scared she'll have to lean forever on her name.

Maybe she wanted nothing more than to never have to be named as the real author, and the publishing house she is with basically said, if this book doesn't sell under the pseudonym we're either pulling it or outing you. Cos sales is sales, baby. Maybe she's as much a victim in this as the duped readers. Maybe this is a situation like The Prince and the Pauper.

Anyway, my point is, I don't know. And I shouldn't presume.

But I'm apparently not the only one who sees it that way. I discovered this article in The Guardian today. The quotes that stood out most to me are:

"...what Rowling has done, however admirable her intentions, was less risky than it first appeared. She took a gamble when she wrote as Robert Galbraith, instead of under her own name, but she admits that the chances of keeping the secret were "incredibly remote". "


"Indeed, while I don't doubt Rowling's motives for one moment, it's instructive that the revelation of her authorship has quickly become a story about a well-known writer doing something quirky and eccentric – rather than a telling tale about the state of publishing. Whether she likes it or not, she is in that category of stratospherically famous authors who have become brands; Dan Brown is another obvious example. This is a recent development and its impact on other writers is disastrous, creating a situation in which huge publicity budgets are placed behind a handful of authors, skewing bestseller lists."

Of course I worded things rather differently in my post yesterday--and it implied more than I intended. Maybe as a not-at-all-famous author what I said came across as resentful. That wasn't my goal. All I wanted to say was that starting off as a new author and pretending to start off as a new author when you have the ginormous safety net of your world-renown name are not at all equal in risk.

I am at a point where I grab hold of and value every opportunity. If I get to have a table at a craft fair and sell four books in six hours, I'm thrilled despite the fact that those kinds of sales numbers are actually quite pathetic compared to large press authors who might sell 40 or even 400 books in one hour (much less six). I'm at a point where I have no luxuries yet--nothing is assumed, I'm tested at every turn, I have to battle for reviews and respect as a writer.

I get that JK Rowling was in this exact position years ago when she first wrote Harry Potter. If she hadn't hit the right editor at the right time, she could still be struggling to become a published author. She's been through exactly what we aspiring and indie authors are going through right now. She made her way to the top with talent and an amazing story, and hard work. She's earned every bit of success she's gotten, and I never meant to imply that I believe otherwise or that I begrudge her that.

Am I envious of her? Probably to a degree. But even if I am, is that wrong?

Is it wrong to point out that it's a lot easier to take a risk when you have the ultimate sure-fire back-up plan?

Or is it wrong only because I'm down here at the bottom looking up?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

My Medieval Birthday Celebration

So, the fam did something last night that I've been wanting to do for a long time. We went to Medieval Times in Orlando to celebrate my birthday. Now, Jeff and I have been before--a few times--but not since pre-Beastie days. (That's before we had kids, for anyone not familiar with the nomenclature here.)

We didn't tell the Beasties where we were going--actually didn't tell them we were going anywhere at all until about an hour and half before we left the house--and they spent half the ride over trying to guess. Neither of them even came close. And when we pulled up...."Wow! We're going to a castle!" and "Cool!"

Yes, cool. Every bit of it was.

The Beasties so happy to get there, and Beastie 2 thinking it was hilarious to have a plastic sign outside a medieval castle.

Posin' with the armor. 

The menfolk.

The womenfolk.

The arena is divided into sections, each with different colors, and you cheer for "your" knight. Ours was gold and red. (Gryffindor colors, I might point out.)

All the knights.

Jeff promised Beastie 2 there would be dancing--She had no idea he meant horses!

And a bigger surprise was awaiting Beastie 2 last night. The knights compete in a tournament and the winning knight picks a girl from the crowd to be crowned "Queen of Love and Beauty."
Guess who got picked!

Here she's smiling, but when the knight reached his hand out to her the look of shock was priceless :).

She wasn't the only one who had awesomeness last night, though.

Beastie 1 got a rockin' souvenir. And so did I:

The top one is his. The bottom one mine. I put them together to show the difference in size. The program under mine is magazine sized, btw.

And here's mine open:

I know...but I have wanted a dragon dagger for SO long. :)

Someday I'll get the sword I've wanted, too! Maybe my next birthday!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Location, Location, Location (or, Beautiful Books aren't Always on the Main Road)

Anyone who has lived in the Tampa Bay area of Florida for any length of time knows about Bayshore Blvd. It's a road that runs along the edge of South Tampa and Tampa Bay (as in the actual bay, the water). It's known for its 4.5 mile long sidewalk.

It's a popular place for walking, jogging, and rollerblading. I was lucky enough to live a couple of blocks from Bayshore Blvd. when I was in college (at the University of Tampa) and it really is beautiful.

But Bayshore Blvd. isn't just known for the sidewalk. On the other side of the road, there is a stretch that is lined with amazing houses. Grande, multi-million-dollar, historic houses.

There are houses like this in many parts of South Tampa. But these are the ones that are well-known, and sought-after when they are for sale. We've all heard it before: location, location, location.

The same is true in publishing. There are lots of lovely, well-crafted, amazing books out there in the wilderness of small presses and self-publishing, but the only way to get them really noticed is to get them in the right location. And big presses have the means to do it. Just like with real estate, location adds to the price. Publishers pay more for "prime real estate" in bookstores and Amazon newsletters--things small presses can rarely afford. And those books end up with far more admirers, just like the houses on Bayshore Blvd. have eyes on them all the time.

But think about those incredible houses you've found tucked away in unexpected places. Down a long, winding country road, on the side of a mountain, in a strange and hidden part of a big city. Part of their beauty is in the discovery.

So while you're strolling down the open road of large-press books, try taking a detour now and then. Go down one of the side-roads and see what kinds of hidden treasures you might find in indie books. And then make sure you share the directions with someone!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Checklist for Authors: Tips for Success...NOT

Do any kind of search online for writing and marketing tips, and you will find about fourteen gazillion articles on blogs touting advice on how to be successful as an author.

Most of them say essentially the same things:

Learn and hone thy craft.
Get critique.
Start thyself a blog.
Join Facebook, Twitter, and/or other social media. Promote thyself there, but don't be obnoxious about it.
Get thee an Amazon author page and establish thyself on Goodreads.

Drives. Me. Nuts.

No, it's not bad advice. It's all very good advice. But it's EVERYONE'S advice. Why does every new author feel they have to write one of these posts?

I'm not going to get into that, though.

What I do want to point out is this:

You don't see checklists like this on the blogs of NY Times bestselling authors.

Just sayin'.