Saturday, November 18, 2006

OKC here I come!

There is a huge event taking place in Oklahoma City at the end of the month and I'm headed down to cover it.

Never did I think I'd be doing so much travelling for writing. Toronto, Winnipeg, Portland and now Oklahoma City. My daughter comes with me and it a very good baby. An excellent travelling partner who ensures I am back to the hotel at bedtime.

The magazine is covering my hotel and giving me a press pass, while I'm responsible for my flight and rental car. All in all I'll probably come out a few hundred dollars ahead, but the experience of travelling to an event like this makes up for it.

Anyone know what the temperature is like there at this time of year? Someone said cold... but I'm not sure how that translates into Canadian.

New Blog - Generation NeXt Parenting

I've found a new blog to read, Tricia Goyer and Generation NeXt Parenting.

I feel like I've found a home... every post spoke to me.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Poor National Free Press

Once again I've been spammed by the National Free Press. It's just not worth my time to tell him for the fifth... or is it sixth? ... time that I want to be removed from his database. He's the dumbest supposed smart person I've met.

Last time he told me I was the only one out of 20,000 (or some crazy number) people who responded negatively. Yeah... he had a total of 20 people registered on his forum. Now it's risen to a whole 35 people registered. Yeah... tens of people are excited about him.


During our last spam conversation he said basically 'oh yeah, well I don't want your writing anyways'.

Yet with this spam he's asking me to sign up for his database.

As Winston said, "A modest little person, with much to be modest about."

Tired of Rejection?

My sometimes... (ok, one time) coffee date and writer of over 20-some books, the lovely, the wonderful Shirley Jump has some advice for you:

Hey, listen, if *I* could learn to write a book, ANYONE can. I was awful, but I had some nugget of something because like DJ, I had notes back from contests and the occasional rejection letter that said nice things (most were form letters, though). And yes, lots of the books out there ARE bad. I read books by NYT bestselling authors who are making ten times what I make and getting treated way better by their publishers than me and they can't write their way out of a paper bag.

Is it fair? Heck, no.

Do plumbers and carpenters and basketball players and teachers and dog poop cleaners have all the same complaints? Yeah, they do. You know what the difference is? We take it personally because we are artistes.

Oooh, the big creative minds.

These books are our babies, our creations... Yada-yada. Yawn.

I don't want to be mean, or insensitive, but folks, it's only personal to YOU. This is a business to everyone else in this industry (meaning the editors, the publishing house, the bookseller, the bookstore), except for the writer.

That means when they are rejecting the book, they are not rejecting you, for Pete's sake, they are rejecting a PRODUCT. Do you think that if Paul Newman sent in a proposal for a spinach-rutabaga-chocolate salad dressing, any store in their right mind would put in on shelves, even with his trademark blue eyes on the bottle? I sure hope not, because they wouldn't sell a single one.

They'd reject the product, not poor old Paul. It's a business.

Rejection is all about dollars and sense, plain and simple. And if you can change your attitude, and realize that you have to deliver a better PRODUCT than what they can buy from Jane Doe Debut Author, then you'll jump light years ahead :-)

And also realize that even after you sell, the golden gates don't open and the doves don't fly open, and not everything you write is gold. I still get rejections, I still have projects that don't sell. I still have PRODUCT that isn't RIGHT for the MARKET. It's a business and I'm not always there with the right money-maker :-) And hey, yeah, I get sad that some of my babies are too ugly for the store shelves, but then I go back and make prettier ones. Mix up the word DNA and create a new one. :-)

If you want to hear more wise words from Shirley, swing by her site or visit her online group.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Lil' Blue Eyes

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My Son

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My Daughter

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Mother and Daughter

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Brother and Sister

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Brother and Sister

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I want to remember...

My son is growing so incredibly fast. Many days I am impatient and find myself wishing he were in grade one already or that he would stop being afraid of the shower at the swimming pool or that he'd realize that he needs to eat some supper within some reasonable time frame that is shorter than an hour.

And then I forget about when he was really small and I would rock him to sleep every night and say "I'd better rock him now because someday he won't let me." And that day is almost here. He'll let me hold him or rock him in the big chair, but only on certain days or after he's stubbed his toe or fallen down. One day he'll be too big, one day he really will be a big boy.

I want to remember how he used to say s'lookit instead of 'look at that'. How he says toot sometimes instead of toque. "Look, mom, her toot has a flower on it!"

I read a book tonight with a chapter on how to recognize your children's strenghts. I was worried because my son's might be "doing cool tricks on his skateboard game". But when I thought about it I realized somethings:

My son has amazing empathy. He can almost sense someone else's emotions. He knows if I'm frustrated by the sound of my breathing. One day when I was dating my (now) husband long distance we had just returned from dropping him off at the airport. I was in my room and my son was playing in the living room. I was allowing myself to have a little cry because I was sad to see Randy go.

I had my back to the door as I was sitting on my bed and did not notice my son slip in until he reached up to put his little hand on my shoulder and said "Do you miss Randy, mommy?" How can a three year old know this?

My son has a great vocabulary. He loves to learn new words and uses them, he'll hear any word and ask what it means. (Which means we have to be careful when he watches TV!) Words like consequences, accept, decline, incredible, arrest.... ("If we go too fast and the police catch us, will they unrest us, mommy?)

I hope and pray that I can recognize more of his strong suits. That I can accept and encourage them, even when they are things I know nothing about. I want my son to grow up knowing that his mom encouraged him to follow his heart. If he likes somethings I do, then that's great. Even better if I learn about what he wants to do.

For now, I want to spend less time worrying and wondering about what he will become and spend more time relishing in the unique little boy that he is. I want to remember every misspoken word and clever joke and every quiet little moment together.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Brass Ring – Or the Bottom Rung?

The Brass Ring – Or the Bottom Rung?
By Dee Power, copyright November 2006 (reprinted WITH PERMISSION)

24 million adults in the United States consider themselves creative writers but less than 5% have ever been published anywhere. 172,000 titles were released in 2005. It has been estimated that at any one time there are between 5 to 6 million manuscripts looking for a publishing home. Many writers are turning toward publish-on-demand (POD) houses like iUniverse, AuthorHouse and Publish America to get their books into readers’ hands. About 25,000 titles will be released by POD houses in 2006.

Does a publish-on-demand book, sometimes called vanity or subsidy publisher, help a previously unpublished writer get closer to the brass ring of a commercial publishing contract? Or does it bump them down a rung on their climb up the publishing ladder? Writers often comment that a publish-on-demand book will at least “get their name out there” or that a POD book will show that they are capable of writing a 50,000 to 100,000 word manuscript. But does a POD book really help get a writer commercially published?

That question was asked of nearly 60 successful literary agents in the Hill and Power 2006 Survey of Literary Agents. These agents’ collective opinion is that a publish-on-demand book seriously hurt an author’s chance at being commercially published. Agents were asked to rate their response from 1 - significantly hurt, to 5 - significantly helped.

The average rating was 2. 28% declared a POD title to be neutral (a rating of 3) but half of those specified that a POD title would only help if the sales reached a significant level, from 5,000 to 10,000 copies. Just a handful of publish-on-demand titles have reached that level of sales. The average number of copies sold for a POD title is around 100.

The book publishing industry has never been easy to break into and these same literary agents see the environment getting a bit more challenging in the next year or so for unpublished writers. Combine that with the significantly increased number of unsolicited submissions agents say they’re receiving and writers need every boost they can get toward agency representation and the ultimate goal of commercial publication.

Unfortunately, contrary to what quite a few writers think, that boost isn’t going to come from a publish-on-demand book.

Dee Power is the author, with Brian Hill, of The Making of a Bestseller: Success Stories From Authors and the Editors, Agents and Booksellers Behind Them, Kaplan Trade. Find out more about her at If you would like to comment on these findings go to Dee’s Blog.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Gray's Dichotomy

Oh. Paperback Writer's post, Coming Soon on Book TV absolutely killed me tonight. Seriously.

SHOW DESCRIPTION:A publishing drama that focuses on Merryditz Gray, who is part of a group of authors hanging out at a Borders' cafe. The daughter of a famous (unnamed) writer, Merryditz struggles to maintain relationships with her fellow writers while at the same time competing with them.

How do you view rejection?

Here's an interesting quote from Barbara Kingsolver:

"This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don't consider it rejected. Consider that you've addressed it 'To the editor who can appreciate my work' and it has simply come back stamped 'Not at this address.' Just keep looking for the right address."

I love that quote. It was passed around one of my writing groups today and I felt the need to share it with writers who may pass by this site.

Have a great day!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Mama Ain't Happy

I'm not happy.

Call it a NaNoWriMo induced depression or the winter blues or even the baby blues but I'm just not happy.

I have an expensive hobby. Let's not bother with WHAT it is... but just know that spending $300 a month would be the minimum on the said hobby. Nevermind the time factor... at least three times a week for three hours at a time.

I haven't done it in several years. Financially I haven't made the sacrifice.

But I want to do it. I want so badly to be back up in the saddle. More importantly, I want to have goals. I want to have things to work towards.

Right now it seems that all I do is write. I write and write and write and then when I'm done. Oooh I allow myself to write some more! Yay! Yippee!

There is no carrot dangling anywhere on any stick.

Hobby - $300

But it replaces: mental health days, spa days, gym memberships, vacations...

How do you decide when it's ok to spend money on your hobby? When is a hobby more than a hobby?

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Writing for Free Debate

Every once in a while the debate of 'writing for free' comes up.

I have swung from one side to the other several times, but recently I came up with my rules for writing for free.

I have over 200 published and paid articles.

I began my career by writing a couple of articles for free. There were three reasons I did this.

1. It was a non profit that I volunteered for anyway.
2. It wasn’t just ‘exposure’, but exposure to a select audience in my niche industry.
3. The magazine did not accept advertising, but rather sponsorship. They were not making a profit from the magazine, it was for their members. The sponsorship dollars that came in went to a multitude of programs for members (of which I was one) and in return the sponsors were given space in the magazine.

Once I had TWO articles published, I pursued paid publication. At no point have I accepted an assignment and worked for free when:

a) the magazine accepts advertising
b) they are NOT a non profit
c) the magazine or site allowed anyone to submit anything (or the editing was so poor that it appeared that way) just for the sake of expressing themselves.

Many smaller publications will try the “oh, but I’m not a for profit magazine because I don’t even pay myself.” That’s bunk. If they are accepting advertising that’s called income. Just because they haven’t managed to make their income result in more money than their expenses is no reason to write for them.

I am always astounded when smaller pubs make writers jump through hoops like signing contracts, multiple revisions, signing away of rights when there is no pay.


I’m not one of the writers who feels that the hobby writers (those who don’t care if they get paid, but write for the love of writing) are somehow hurting the professional writers by offering their writing for free and thereby devaluing writing in general. I’ve heard the argument that “well, there aren’t any hobby doctors are there?”

Actually, there are. There are plenty of doctors, lawyers, dentists, teachers, therapists, etc… who give their expertise away for free or on a volunteer basis. You don’t see any doctor going around and saying “the reason I’m not being paid enough is because Dr. So and So is giving away his services.”

If a publication is reputable and professional, they WILL pay their writers SOMETHING. It’s up to you to place a specific value on your own writing. For example, I will not write for a print magazine that pays less than $100 per article. It is not worth my time when I can probably write the same article for over $250 for a larger, more reputable one.

I still volunteer with the same non profit that I wrote my first unpaid article for and I’m the Chair of the Communications Committee. I do a lot of writing for free, but this is where I choose to volunteer. Through volunteering in this organization I’ve made contacts and contracts to be paid for a variety of services. I’ve been contacted by people who want to pay me rather than me have to seek them out. This does not mean that if you volunteer to write for your local parenting magazine that it will work out to be the same…

Look for places that offer advertising space in exchange for writing articles. (Not pay per click, but actual, on paper advertising) Then put in a quick little ad about yourself and writing… maybe someone needs a church bulletin written every Saturday. Maybe someone wants to do an ezine for their company and needs some short articles, maybe ….

Recently a commentor said that I seemed to be too focused on making money with my writing. I am. It's about the only talent I have and it also happens to be my job. That means it's how I feed my kids. So yeah, I happen to love my job and make money at it. Why wouldn't I want to be focused on it?

Writing and making money allows me to stay home with my kids. It wasn't always that way, but it is now. And if I remain focused, it's the way it will always be.

Friday, November 03, 2006

New Feature!

Thank you to Terry Whalin of The Writing Life for creating a Writing Tip of the Day! You can see it over to the right, just scroll down a wee bit.

Terry wrote a wunderbar book called Book Proposals That $ell and I encourage you to buy it. (No, I don't get a cut, lol) I bought it and read it stem to stern. Then I applied it to my book proposal in progress.

I had sent my proposal to a couple of publishers and one agent, the results had been sad. No responses and form rejections.

After applying the 21 techniques he lists to my proposal I sent it out again. It was immediately accepted by my agent, Kate Epstein.

Head over to Terry's blog, or check out the transcript of his recent chat on book proposals at the web site for the Institute of Children's Literature.